Publications

use the map to sort by country →

Financial Inclusion and the World’s “Unbanked” Population

by Isobel Coleman
This article originally appeared on her blog Democracy in Development, May 30, 2013

Imagine life without a bank account. Completing a simple financial transaction can require traveling a distance, incurring expenses, and losing precious income. Savings are more difficult to track and certainly don’t earn interest. Theft or loss of the proverbial “cookie jar” is a constant worry. Indeed, studies show that informal savers lose as much as 25 percent of their hard-earned cash each year due to theft and loss. Yet for over 2.5 billion people globally, this inconvenient, inefficient, and expensive reality is the case.

(more…)

Challenges for Pakistan’s Prime Minister

by Isobel Coleman
This article originally appeared on her blog Democracy in Development, May 24, 2013

A few years ago on a flight from London to Karachi I sat next to one of Pakistan’s leading textile manufacturers who spent several hours discussing the sorry state of his business. The fact that his European clients will no longer visit the country because they view it as too dangerous was not even his biggest problem. His real issue is the constant blackouts his factories face due to a lack of reliable energy. “We can’t compete with the likes of Bangladesh and Vietnam,” he bemoaned. This is the tough economic reality that Nawaz Sharif, Pakistan’s newly elected prime minister, inherits.

(more…)

Combating Obstetric Fistula

by Isobel Coleman
This article originally appeared on her blog Democracy in Development, May 23, 2013

Today is the first International Day to End Obstetric Fistula. To be honest, I was not very familiar with the tragedy of fistula until about a decade ago, when I met the remarkable Dr. Catherine Hamlin, who has devoted her life to treating the problems of fistula in Ethiopia.

(more…)

Putting an End to Child Marriage

by Isobel Coleman
This article originally appeared on her blog Democracy in Development, May 22, 2013

Today, CFR published a new report, Ending Child Marriage: How Elevating the Status of Girls Advances U.S. Foreign Policy Objectives. The report looks at the scope and causes of this practice, what it means for U.S. foreign policy, and ways the U.S. might tackle child marriage through policy.

(more…)

Debating Hillary Clinton’s Legacy as Secretary of State

by Isobel Coleman
This article originally appeared on her blog Democracy in Development, May 8, 2013

In light of the ongoing controversy over Benghazi, the New York Times’ Room for Debate asked contributors to weigh in on Hillary Clinton’s record as secretary of state.

Clinton drew significant praise from some contributors. Philip Seib of the Center on Public Diplomacy said, “More than any previous secretary of state, Clinton ‘got it’ in terms of understanding the importance of public diplomacy as a foreign policy tool.” Professor Minxin Pei at the Claremont McKenna College lauded Clinton’s work in Asia, concluding that “despite the growing underlying antagonism in U.S.-China relations, the ties between the U.S. and China are now on a more solid and realistic footing.”

(more…)

Women and Sports in Saudi Arabia

by Isobel Coleman
This article originally appeared on her blog Democracy in Development, May 8, 2013

Last summer, I wrote about two young women from Saudi Arabia, Wojdan Shaherkani and Sarah Attar, who were the first Saudi women ever to compete in the Olympics. They had to endure criticism from conservatives at home and lots of discussion about what they would wear to compete, but they served as a powerful symbol of a better future for Saudi women’s athletic participation.

(more…)

Literacy in the Middle East and North Africa

by Isobel Coleman
This article originally appeared on her blog Democracy in Development, May 6, 2013

While the Arab revolutions were underpinned by a demand for greater political freedom, economic frustrations–particularly among the region’s large youth population–were also a factor. Millions of young people with university degrees languish for years unemployed, with no hope of getting a job that meets their expectations. Millions more are not completing sufficient years of school to master basic literacy and numeracy skills. As the 2002 Arab Human Development Report noted, adult literacy in the Arab world is shamefully low–and lower than the average in developing countries.

(more…)

USAID, Water, and Food Security

by Isobel Coleman
This article originally appeared on her blog Democracy in Development, April 25, 2013

With its recently released Water and Development Strategy, USAID highlights some practical and potentially powerful initiatives both to improve health by expanding access to clean water and sanitation and to improve food security through better water management in agriculture.

(more…)

Graph: Sovereign Wealth Funds

by Isobel Coleman
This article originally appeared on her blog Democracy in Development, April 24, 2013

Sometimes, a picture really is worth a thousand words.

(more…)

Developments in U.S. Food Aid Reform

by Isobel Coleman
This article originally appeared on her blog Democracy in Development, April 18, 2013

American food aid to countries in need is one of those broken policies that seem like such a no-brainer to fix. Yet despite well-intentioned efforts to do so, vested interests insist on maintaining the status quo, with ill effects. The Obama Administration, like the Bush Administration before it, is again trying to bring some sense to food aid, but prospects for reform are low.

(more…)