In July 2010, the UN General Assembly established UNWomen – the United Nations Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women. The decision to establish a single UN body dealing with gender stemmed from a realization that the campaign towards gender equality and women’s empowerment need to be more focused, organized and unified. Interestingly over the last few months reports, studies and websites dealing with gender and the status of women have appeared, emphasizing the plight that many women around the world face. These studies make it clear why UNWomen has stated that, “…gender inequalities remain deeply entrenched in every society. Women lack access to decent work and face occupational segregation and gender wage gaps. They are too often denied access to basic education and health care. Women in all parts of the world suffer violence and discrimination. They are under-represented in political and economic decision-making processes.” A possible explanation (beyond the male-domination of domestic and international politics) for the lack of substantive progress in promoting women’s rights is that the issue is seen as one of either development or politics. These are considered not to be as important as defense or national security as it is understood in the post-9/11 world. In other words, when there is a clash between defense and development issues, the former always takes precedence. The reality however is that by making gender and women’s empowerment a national security issue, a rapid change in women’s rights would occur especially as in the post-9/11 world it is easier to attain consensus and support for policies and programs when they take place under “national security.”
First published by INSCT on Security - link to initial publication.