ASPI suggests
10 Mar 2017| and

Image courtesy of Flickr user Marc Nozell.

Happy #IWD2017 for Wednesday, y’all. It’s no accident that all of this week’s picks are either about women or by women. Let’s dive in.

The Economist has gifted us with their annual Glass Ceiling Index to show where women have the ‘best chances of equal treatment at work’. The Nordic nations still lead the pack, while Japan and South Korea are all the way down the other end; Australia’s somewhere in the middle, though below the OECD average. Feast your eyes on where the surveyed nations sit with respect to measures including working environment, education, wage gap, paid leave, and women on boards and in parliaments. 

Let’s stay with Japan for a minute. Another survey released this week had some more poor news in store when it ranked Japan 163rd out of 193 countries for female representation in parliaments, down from 156/191 the previous year. So things aren’t great, but one shining example—indeed, a diamond in the rough—is Tokyo Governor Yuriko Koike. The FT visited Koike, a former LDP Diet member, at her Tokyo pad to talk life and politics, but it was her dog, So-chan, who stole the show. Over at The Interpreter, Krystal Hartig checks in on PM Abe’s efforts to increase female participation through his ‘womenomics’ initiative. And for the Council on Foreign Relations, Sheila Smith has pulled together short bios on seven women who’ve led the way in promoting an understanding of Japan. On the list is the former US Ambassador to Japan, Caroline Kennedy, who championed gender equality while at post. Read more about Kennedy in this recent NYT profile.

Masha Gessen’s occasional column for The New York Review of Books has quickly become one of the must read voices on Russia. Catch up with her latest, on the Trump-Kremlin conspiracy (cover-up?), here.

There’s a good chance that International Women’s Day was acutely felt in Washington DC this year. With Hillary Clinton back in the press after a quiet few months, declaring that ‘the future is female,’ the World Economic Forum has highlighted the goals that must be achieved before we can realise that future. White House national security aide Sebastian Gorka has repeatedly reveled in his belief that ‘the alpha males are back’ in charge of international relations under Trump. In a piece over at POLITICO, three of Washington’s Alpha Females—Wendy Sherman, Michèle Flournoy and Madeleine Albright—dissect Trump’s machismo-infused policy approach and, unsurprisingly, find it wanting. (For more, see the podcast recommendation). Also on female superstars from America’s officialdom, Quartz has published a list, based on CIA report from 1984, of seven outstanding female spies, who may have had a thing or two to say about the return of the “alpha male”.

A round of applause for our friends over at Lowy for their all-women line-up on 8 March. For our money, Danielle Cave’s article on the banishing the ‘all-male panel’ stole the show. For those keen to break the manel’s back, Danielle lists four excellent resources: one, two, three and four. We’d also like to add the exceptional Foreign Policy Interrupted—sign up for their weekly mail-out for a smorgasbord of world-class analysis from exceptional women in the defence, foreign policy and security fields. And finally, on 20 March, readers can look forward to the release of Foreign Policy’s first-ever women’s issue.

ASPI this week launched a new series on Women, Peace and Security. In week one we’ve served up analysis from think-tankers, ADF members, academics and officials, with more to come as the debate unfolds over the next couple of weeks. As always, we’re keen to improve the quality of the debate by featuring the work of female students, analysts, academics, commentators and strategists. Please get in touch ([email protected]) if you want to write for The Strategist.


Two good picks featuring America’s first female Secretary of State, the unflagging Madeleine Albright. First is a new drop from David Axelrod’s fantastic podcast, The Axe Files; Albright talks about her experience as a political refugee fleeing Czechoslovakia for the UK in the 1940’s, US power, Trump’s agenda and Steve Bannon (63 mins). In the second, Albright is part of a high-powered troika alongside Michèle Flournoy and Wendy Sherman; the three talk alpha-male natsec policy, their experiences as top-ranking female officials, and America as an ‘indispensable nation’, among others (45 mins).

The stellar team that brings you the ‘Bombshell’ podcast was this week joined by military history heavyweight Kori Schake to dissect Kim Jong-nam’s assassination in Malaysia and, as always, offer thoughts on their top tipples for the week. Check it out here (50 mins).


In celebration of #IWD2017, CSIS’s Smart Women, Smart Power project hosted the Managing Director of the IMF Christine Lagarde for a chat about empowering women in the workplace, and policies and procedures that might help to achieve that end. Watch how the conversation unfolded here (57 mins).


Brisbane: We’re getting a good run-up to this event because it’s sure to be a corker: Griffith University will host Texas A&M’s Valerie Hudson on 2 May for a presentation on the Hillary Doctrine, WPS and gender in foreign policy in the time of Trump. After her remarks Hudson will continue the discussion with the dynamic duo of Sara Davies and Susan Harris Rimmer. Registration essential; details over at Twitter.

Melbourne: Join Linda Jakobson and Bates Gill as they launch their new book, China Matters: Getting It Right For Australia. The powerhouse team will be answering your questions at the State Library of Victoria on 30 March.