Even after a long flight and jet lag, 11 female, Iraqi athletes and three coaches arrived to the United States this December bright-eyed and ready for an empowering experience. They were eager to listen, ask questions, and talk about their backgrounds as teenage soccer players and students in Iraq. Although most of the young women met for the first time at the airport, coming from three different cities -- Baghdad, Kirkuk, and Erbil -- they already acted like teammates.

The election of Michelle Bachelet as Chile’s new president earlier this month saw the continuation in the rise of women to positions of political power throughout Latin America, garnering praise from analysts concerned with women’s rights in the land of machismo, at a time when the world's leading superpower has yet to see a female as its top leader.

There were constant reminders of Egypt’s volatile political situation throughout the sixth Cairo International Women’s Film Festival. The entrance to Falaki Theatre, which hosted many of the festival’s screenings and its closing ceremony, is unmarked, well secured and directly in front of a high concrete wall abruptly blocking the road—one of many erected by security forces in downtown Cairo to restrict access by protesters to various government buildings and foreign embassies.

Malala Yousafzai has topped a list of the 101 most powerful British Asians and Asians resident in the UK, knocking Labour MP Keith Vaz off the number one spot he held last year. Yousafzai, who came to Britain from Pakistan after she was shot in the head by the Taliban for campaigning for girls’ education, is the only woman to feature in the top ten.

Colombia President Juan Manuel Santos announced Tuesday that two women will be joining negotiators for the government in ongoing peace talks with the counrty’s largest rebel group the FARC in Havana, Cuba. The two women named were Maria Paulina, a lawyer and human rights advocate, and Nigeria Renteria, currently the High Presidential Adviser on Women’s Equality.

Arab women played a central role in the Arab Spring, but their hopes the revolts would bring greater freedom and expanded rights for women have been thwarted by entrenched patriarchal structures and the rise of Islamists, gender experts in the countries say.

In October, I had the opportunity to take part in a unique project; creating a music video for a social action campaign. The project emerged from several conversations with fellow Annenberg graduate student Rotana Tarabzouni, a woman born and raised in Dhahran (an eastern city in Saudi Arabia). As a Saudi woman, Rotana grew up under a system that imposes restrictions on her individual agency.