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What the war in Ukraine will mean in terms of gender equality

1 min read

Will the war in Ukraine "bury" feminist foreign policies, or will it reveal their power? Yasmine Ergas, director of the Gender and Public Policy specialization at Columbia University’s School of International and Public Affairs, and associate director of the Institute for the Study of Human Rights at Columbia, raises the question in a piece published in Pass Blue.

"Who doesn’t know that the fighting is largely the work of men?" Ergas writes. "In Ukraine, once again, the rules of conscription and refuge are following a familiar pattern, men to the front, women and children to shelter, inside and outside the country. And when we see the women politicians or grass-roots advocates or journalists deploying all the means at their disposal to fight militarily and on the terrain of public opinion, our momentary surprise (generally not commented upon) highlights how conventional our expectations still are when it comes to war".

"The gendered nature of war, then, is common knowledge" Ergas says "it is to the large number of feminists who have been working on it for years; it must be to the growing number of countries (Sweden, Canada, France, Luxembourg, Spain, Mexico, Libya, Germany and now Chile) — call them the FFP9 — that have declared that they pursue feminist foreign policies. But even those countries that proudly disdain feminism as a guide to international relations have at least paid lip service to the UN Security Council’s women, peace and security agenda; NATO’s efforts to integrate gender perspectives into its core tasks of collective defense, crisis management and cooperative security; and the European Union’s longstanding policies promoting gender equality as a basic right". 

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