432 TRANSNATIONAL LAW & CONTEMPORARY PROBLEMS [Vol. 20:431
poor access to education;
lack of career opportunities;
restricted participation in public life;
and unequal inheritance rights.
While most of the solutions to these
problems must come from within each society, there can be a role for
carefully constructed, culturally respe ctful foreign assistance. Throug h the
Obama Adminis tration‘s n ew approach tow ards international law and
engagement with the Muslim World, the United States may be in a cri tical
position to make a lasting impact on women‘s human rights issues.
This Article will first present suggestions on how the Obama
Administration can improve women‘s rights in the Muslim World.
Specifically, it will provide foreign policy recommendations that will socially,
economically, and politically empower women. The Article will place special
emphasis on the need to provide financial support and other reso urces for
programs in the Muslim World that will counteract violence against women.
Second, it will recommend increasing access to, and improving the quality of,
education fo r women in Muslim-majority countries. Third, it will emphasize
the need to empower women economically by integrating them into the
workforce. Finally, it will discuss the importance of women‘s participation in
the political process and its role in impro ving women‘s rights in the Muslim
World. In implementing this agenda, the United States must be very careful
not to appear as an imperialist nation attempting to implement Western
―feminist‖ ideals or as favoring women over men.
Part II of this Article will begin by briefly addressing the Obama
Administration‘s approach to the ro le of international law in U.S. foreign
policy and co ntrasting it to the Bush Administration‘s approach. An
administration‘s general view toward international law is important to its
foreign policy because it has considerable bearing on its engagement tactics
See infra Part III (discussing issues regarding women's access to education in the Mus lim
See infra Part III (discussing women‘s difficulty accessing career opportunities in the Muslim
See infra Part III (discussing violence against women in the Muslim World).
See Adrien Wing & Hisham Kassim, The Future of Palestinian Women‟s Rights, 64 WASH. &
LEE L. REV. 1551, 1561 (2007) [hereinafter Tunisian Progress] (explaining that the law in
Palestine requires that a father consent to his daughter‘s marriage, regardless of his daughter‘s
age); see also Hannibal Travis, Freedom or Theocracy?: Constitutionalism in Afghanistan and
Iraq, 3 NW. J. INT‘L L. 4, 69 (2005) (explaining that the Taliban‘s strict religious traditions
continue to influence parts of Afghanistan by forcing young girls into marriage through the
threat of imprisonment).
See Susan Tiefenbrun, The Semiotics of Women‟s Human Rights in Iran, 23 CONN. J. INT‘L L. 1,
16 (2007) (explaining that women‘s involvement in public life is limited because they are limited
to activities in the home).
See Tunisian Progress, supra note 5, at 1560, n.65 (explaining that Palestine and Tunisia only
guarantee women half the inheritance amount that a man receives).