"Women and Conflict: The Contributions of American Foundations"
Patrice McMahon (Political Science, UNL)
In the past three decades, the U.S. government has spent a great deal of time and money on advancing women’s empowerment. This is particularly true for women in conflict zones and transitional countries. After the civil conflicts in the Balkans and Rwanda, the Clinton administration highlighted the role women’s organizations could play in promoting ethnic reconciliation. In Afghanistan and Iraq, President Bush maintained that women were crucial to the revival of these countries, putting significant resources in programs for women in governance, education and economic development. In 2012 alone, the Obama administration promised well over $200 million for women in Afghanistan and Pakistan.
As in other areas of international politics, when it comes to women’s empowerment and gender equality, the U.S. government has not acted alone. In fact, private aid for women has paralleled the US government’s increasing attention. And while government aid for women has remained flat during the past decade, private aid and particularly American foundation funding has continued to rise.
In this presentation McMahon will examine the role of American foundations in advancing women’s empowerment with a specific focus on gender initiatives in conflict and post-conflict regions. The talk is based on new research conducted with Jill Irvine of the University of Oklahoma, which draws upon comprehensive data provided by The Foundation Center to track overall funding for women’s empowerment programs from 2003 to 2013. McMahon and Irvine are particularly interested in levels of funding for women’s empowerment programs in conflict and postconflict zones, including areas experiencing civil conflict and violent popular protest.