Judith Bruce joined the Council in 1977. She is a senior associate and policy analyst with the Council’s Poverty, Gender, and Youth program. Through policy analysis, evidence-based intervention design, advocacy, and capacity building, she has changed the way the world thinks about quality of care from the client’s perspective and about the power and potential of the poorest, most excluded girls.
Bruce leads the Council’s efforts to develop programs that protect the health and well-being and expand the opportunities of the poorest adolescent girls in the poorest communities. The programs often include social support, mentoring, and meaningful educational opportunities including financial literacy, livelihoods skills and savings, and health information and access. Her work engages grassroots organizations, governments, nongovernmental organizations, and donors in a multi-country effort to place adolescent girls at the center of the global health and development agenda.
She was among the first to illuminate the scope and negative impact of child marriage—including violence and discrimination. She insisted on the term “child marriage” rather than “early marriage,” as the latter suggests a desirable precocity, concealing the fact that child marriage is arguably the most regularly occurring and serious human rights abuse.
Earlier in her career, Bruce published the family planning quality of care framework, which was instrumental in the global shift in family planning programs from target-driven approaches to a focus on quality, as defined by a program’s ability to meet clients’ needs sustainably. The framework remains the foundation for defining the goals and evaluating the outcomes of family planning and reproductive health programs.
Recently Bruce served as co-chair of the UN Expert Group Meeting on the elimination of all forms of discrimination and violence against the girl-child. She has been a member of the Council on Foreign Relations since 1977. In 1993 she received the Association for Women in Development’s bi-annual award for outstanding contributions to the field. A graduate of Harvard University, Bruce has written and lectured extensively on population policy, the quality of reproductive health services, adolescent girls’ status in the developing world, family and partnership dynamics, and women’s access to and control of resources inside and outside the household.