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Anika Rahman

Anika Rahman is a lawyer with a distinguished career as a leader for human rights and social justice. Her expertise is focused on women, health and economic development.

Ms. Rahman served as President and CEO of the Ms. Foundation for Women, the leading U.S. social justice foundation focused on women. She focused on strengthening the women’s movement, with a special emphasis on diversity and the concerns of marginalized communities. She led the foundation toward a comprehensive new strategic plan that consolidated the organization’s finances and expanded its public profile as a national voice for women.

Previously, Ms. Rahman was the President of Friends for United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), the world’s largest funder of reproductive and sexual health programs. In her tenure at the helm of Friends for UNFPA, Ms. Rahman was instrumental in raising awareness of the global fight for the rights of women and girls and of America’s critical role in this movement. She significantly grew the organization in size and scope and was part of the campaign to have UNFPA funding restored by President Obama.

Ms. Rahman was the Founding Director of the International Legal Program at the Center for Reproductive Rights, where she created a legal framework for reproductive rights as human rights and helped women around the world fight for equality and health. As the visionary behind the Center’s global and U.S. foreign policy work, she developed the Center into the foremost legal organization in the world on international women’s reproductive rights. Among her achievements, Ms. Rahman led investigations into human rights violations, including sexual assault, coercive sterilization and abortion-related imprisonment, in Peru, Chile and Nepal.

Earlier in her career, Ms. Rahman practiced law at Cleary, Gottlieb, Steen & Hamilton.

Ms. Rahman earned her Bachelor of Arts from Princeton’s Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs and her Juris Doctorate from Columbia Law School. She is a lifetime member of the Council on Foreign Relations. Ms. Rahman received the 2009 Women’s eNew “21 Leaders for the 21st Century” award and the 2002 Lawrence A. Wien Prize for Social Responsibility from Columbia Law School. Her articles have been published in major academic and legal journals and media outlets. In 2000, she co-authored a book, “Female Genital Mutilation: A Practical Guide to Worldwide Laws and Policies,” published by St. Martin’s Press.

All Work

ICPD + 15: Who Is Leading the Way?

Anika Rahman

At a meeting in Berlin last week, delegates met to review the 15 years since the signing of the ICPD Plan of Action. Significant shortfalls exist, but some progress has been made.

Divorcing ‘Women’ From Foreign Policy Is Bad Policy

Anika Rahman

Americans view U.S. assistance for global women's heath programs as important, but not necessary to our own interests but these issues must form a core part of our foreign policy as much as oil, war and trade. The next administration can change that.

Early Marriage: Here in the US, Too

Anika Rahman

When authorities removed 413 children in danger of sexual abuse from the Yearning for Zion ranch this month, it became clear that here in the US, child marriage is a result of brainwashing and indoctrination.

Triggering Passion Through Personal Connection

Anika Rahman

How can we trigger passion for social justice in young people? Nothing touches people like personal connection. That's why last year Americans for UNFPA started the Student Award for the Health and Dignity of Women.

All I Want for the Holidays

Anika Rahman

No matter what the framers intended, we now follow a system of government that is heavily weighed toward the executive branch. So more than ever we need a President who understands the importance of global women's health.

All Cultures Value Human Rights

Anika Rahman

Where would the world be without the Universal Declaration of Human Rights? What body would have the moral authority to set the standard for nations everywhere? The answer: The United Nations.

Real Change Comes From Within

Anika Rahman

Societies are living, evolving entities just like the people who comprise them. And when one or a few decide to change things - if they are very passionate, persistent and, one might argue, extraordinary - societies do change.

Motherhood Matters For All Women

Anika Rahman

Motherhood is not fundamental to women. But even childless women have a stake in childbirth being safe because it's such a strong indicator of the value a society places on women.

Can I Get An Amen?

Anika Rahman

Bill Hybels, conservative Christian and founder of a Chicago-area megachurch, recently indicated interest in "the plight of women in the developing world."

Lifelines: Finding Connections with Women Worldwide

Anika Rahman

This week Americans for UNFPA launches Lifelines, a new online community. We ask women all over the world to share their stories and then compare them with the stories of others. We believe it is these shared experiences that engage people in these global challenges, create lasting relationships and lead people to action.

Cracking Maternal Mortality

Anika Rahman

By focusing exclusively on egregious and tragic examples of the most extreme cases of society failing women, we lose sight of the fact that, in many parts of the world, it's bad for your health just to be a woman.

Child Marriage Not An Economic Solution

Anika Rahman

It's tempting to think of early marriage as a solution to economic deprivation. But early marriage almost always means less education, limited opportunities and economic insecurity for the married girl.

Absent Without Leave

Anika Rahman

Our democratic presidential candidates could have provided the votes to restore funding to UNFPA, but instead, they were out campaigning.

Playing Games With UNFPA Funds

Anika Rahman

Senate Democrats fight for global women's health today by urging Bush to restore the long withheld funding for crucial family planning funds around the world.

Global Women’s Health in the Debate

Anika Rahman

Anika Rahman watched the YouTube/CNN Democratic debate this week hoping that the American public (or at least the YouTube watching public) would prompt discussion on women's health globally.

The Mystery of the Disappearing UNFPA Funds

Anika Rahman

Every year Congress releases funds for crucial women's health care programs globally. Every year President Bush withholds those funds. Americans for UNFPA asks: what will the next president do to help prevent the deaths of thousands of women worldwide?