The Interrupters

Getting More Women in Foreign Policy on Television, March 2016. Photo: New America

The World Policy Journal has been interrupted!

This past winter, Elmira Bayrasli and Lauren Bohn, co-creators of Foreign Policy Interrupted, teamed up with the World Policy Journal to shake up the male-dominated foreign policy status quo. The December edition of World Policy was a special one—penned entirely by female foreign policy experts and journalists. Like all other World Policy Journal issues, the articles in this women-led publication focus on pertinent foreign policy issues, ranging from abortion laws across the Americas, to the Saudi-Egypt alliance, to Russian and Iranian support for Assad.

Why Foreign Policy Needs to be Interrupted

In their editors’ note titled “Get in Formation,” Bayrasli and Bohn lay out the reason for their “interruption,” and identify key barriers that women face in the field of foreign policy. Institutionally, they argue, women and men hold “deeply entrenched societal sexism and bias, unconscious or otherwise, deeming male voices as authoritative.” Traditionally, men are assumed to be experts, the voice of authority, and the leader, while women with equal, and, frequently, greater competence and actual authority, are “second-guessed and (deemed) untrustworthy.” Institutional sexism acts as a constant barrier to women of authority and expertise – a fact which is compounded by societal questioning and skepticism of professional women trying to break into a ‘man’s world’.

Bayrasli and Bohn insist that “raising awareness about media representation is not enough to change it.” Instead, they argue that we must meaningfully change who we consider and call upon as experts in the field. World Policy Interrupted takes a step in the right direction by highlighting women’s policy opinions and analysis, instead of simply focusing on the fact that they are traditionally missing from the conversation.

That’s What She Said

World Policy Interrupted is full of important, timely policy analysis on a wide range of issues, all of which add value to our own discussions of the Women, Peace and Security movement. Here are a few of our favorite quotes from this issue:

  • “A Seat at the Table,” by Nanjala Nyabola

Why we love it:  Nyabola tackles the fight for gender parity in Kenya and Somalia.

“Representation of women in legislatures is about more than simply increasing the percentage of women MPs, but where even that is lacking, getting the numbers is an excellent start. In the long term, it should involve creating alternative visions of inclusion and fostering conversations around belonging, democracy, and other big ideas.”

  • “Good Girls Revolt,” by Maura Elizabeth Cuningham

Why we love it: It’s all about the future of feminism in China

“Chinese women who seek change are often fighting a trifecta of institutionalized discrimination, societal pressure, and family expectations. But the fact that many are pursuing their goals in the face of these challenges is a sign that the mood is different than when I first moved to China in 2005.”

  • “We Want to Stay Alive,” by Alice Driver

Why we love it: It’s about understanding sexual violence as femicide.

“The government has continually relied on violence against women to control and intimidate. It is not a byproduct of other violence but rather an accepted practice within state institutions—one that is nearly always left unpunished.”

  • “Partnering Up,” by Manal Omar

Why we love it: It’s about how to work with religious leaders to counter violent extremism

“In addition to youth, many experts stress the necessity of reaching out to women, who are critical in shaping their children’s perspectives. Yvonne in Nairobi told me: ‘Women in my community are playing a more active role in the lives of their sons and daughters by ensuring they nurture them in a way that prevents them from joining terror groups through guided values. This has been as a result of organized women forums in the community.’”

For more interruptions, World Policy Interrupted is available for download here.