Where were the women? In Trump's foreign policy, female leaders are scarce

The World
Photo of world leaders at the G20 summit in Germany

Few women were amongst the world leaders gathered Friday, July 7th in Hamburg, Germany for the G20 summit

Ian Langsdon/Reuters

What a manly week it’s been!

Let’s start with aggressive moves by male-dominated, highly militarized North Korea to test its capacity for a nuclear strike.  This is a regime that Human Rights Watch declared as deeply patriarchal, and Reuters says has almost no women in the upper echelons of government, except female relatives of Kim Jong-un. 

Then, on Thursday, ahead of the G-20 summit, Trump was warmly greeted in conservative Poland, a country where the newly elected far-right government wants to roll back domestic violence protections and limit access to contraception and abortion.

There, Trump's life-or-death speech warned of a “clash of civilizations” and asked "the West" if it had the "will to survive against radical Islamic terrorism" even as ISIS' muscle and reach shrink rapidly.  Peter Beinart's article in the Atlantic described the speech as bellicose, racial and nationalist, and while he missed a chance to comment on what Trump's nostalgia for Western values means for women, it's worth reading.

Today, Trump met with Russian president Vladimir Putin, a leader who frequently demeans women and has decriminalized domestic violence. They both have cultivated reputations as testosterone-fueled tough guys, points out The New York Times’ Susan Chira, and they’re both champions at belittling women.

Men already dominate the news in almost all topics, research shows, however the absence of women is particularly acute in foreign policy. And it’s not just annoying to see so few women engaged in efforts to avert major international crises right now, it’s concerning.

All-male groups that oppress women’s rights are much more likely to engage in conflict, according to a lot of new research that gets little attention. The best predictor of a state’s stability is how it treats women. Read the research or just read coverage of countries in conflict. Sadly, not only does Trump have fewer women in his cabinet than any president since the 1960s, this week we learned he also pays women who work in his White house $.63 for every dollar he pays men. This is going in the wrong direction.

Next week, watch AWL's Facebook page for my live reporting from the Family planning summit in London, which matters as we still live in a world where most women can't control their pregnancies, and that impacts climate change, poverty and more. Who would you like to hear from? What are your questions? Chat with me on Facebook or email me directly:  casquith@pri.org

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Christina Asquith, editorial director, Across Women's Lives