Equality as a Prerequisite for Democracy

SoME Gavobevis 2023

9 June 2023

Equality as a Prerequisite for Democracy

The International Institute for Democracy and Electoral Assistance (IDEA) invited us to “Unpacking Democracy: Why Gender Equality Matters” presented by the Summit for Democracy’s Gender Equality Cohort.

“The working group for gender equality as a prerequisite for democracy is jointly led by Sweden, Romania, Georgetown University’s Institute for Women, Peace & Security (GIWPS) and International IDEA.

The purpose of the group is to highlight and promote the connection between gender equality and democracy and to produce policy recommendations to strengthen women’s participation in and contribution to democracy. In particular, the recommendation will address issues of inclusion (economic, social and political), justice (formal laws and informal discrimination) and security (at the individual, community and community level). In addition, the group will serve as a global platform to draw attention to the need to address harmful and rigid gender norms that hinder women’s full participation and representation in democracy and emphasize the importance of gender equality in rebuilding societies after crises and conflicts.” (Source: Democracy Cohorts and more information here.

Panelists from Sweden’s and Romania’s foreign ministries, the Georgetown Institute for Women, Peace, and Security (GIWPS) and the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) gave us interesting perspectives and insights on the topic of democracy and gender equality.

Research shows that women’s participation in conflict resolution leads to a more sustainable peace, but in reality women are still marginalized in the processes. It will be a double loss both for the future peace and in the present because women are generally hit harder by the consequences of the conflict. The working group for gender equality aims to identify negative attitudes linked to gender. Tools to mitigate these are, for example, UN Security Council Resolution (UNSCR) 1325 on women, peace and security and CEDAW (the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women). However, policies can only serve their purpose IF they are implemented.

Research shows that there is a strong correlation between the level of protection women can expect and the overall safety of a country – the safer a woman is, the safer the country. There is also a strong correlation between the degree of democracy in a country and the degree of women’s rights in the same country. The opposite can be seen in many countries today, where anti-democratic leaders limit women’s rights. This leads to two conclusions, first the importance of the national action plan that all countries are required to develop to implement UNSCR 1325 to strengthen the role of women. It also emphasizes the importance of including women in the early stages of the peace process as it will lead to stronger democracies and safer countries, for all. To strengthen democracy, women must be strengthened. This is not just a women’s struggle, men and boys must be engaged to achieve change together.

One method to strengthen women’s voices is to use more online communication, a simple way to reach a large audience with a small amount of money. A tool widely used by women activists and politicians around the world to empower themselves and other women. However, this leads to consequences – digital violence and cyberbullying. Women are twice as likely as men to be exposed to digital violence. Which leads to women being silenced when the price is too high. This means that if we want to empower women to use digital tools to make their voices heard, in order to have more democratic and safer countries at the same time, we must also mitigate the effects of digital violence and support women when they become vulnerable. Digital communication is becoming increasingly important and more common. The next step is the development of artificial intelligence (AI). The technology is already here, the continued development must have a gender dimension, the technology will not wait.

Anette Uddqvist, Director

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