The plenary hall of the 7th World Forum for Democracy - Gender Equality: Whose Battle, held in Strasbourg, France from 19 to 21 November 2018. (Sarah Taylor)

The United Nations and its agencies have prioritized women’s rights for decades and recognized the impediments to gender equality globally. Numerous resolutions, agencies, conferences, and declarations have been adopted, established, held, and written. Often, however, the actual work and effort expended towards achieving greater gender equality falls on women alone. Worse still, gender equality is viewed by some in a limited sense as a “women’s issue” that is not really of concern to men.

But whose battle is gender equality? It is everyone’s battle, and it is critically important that men understand that this includes them. Gender equality is a universal agenda and its absence has profound consequences for all of humanity. There is perhaps no area where this becomes clearer than in relation to matters of peace and security.

Research has found that “the very best predictor of a state’s peacefulness is not its level of wealth, its level of democracy, or its ethno-religious identity; the best predictor of a state’s peacefulness is how well its women are treated.” While we still do not fully understand the complex relationship between gender and security, we do know that there is a strong correlation between “gender inequality” and the occurrence and reoccurrence of armed conflict. This has been found in a number of empirical studies, whether measuring conflict between states or within states. Read more