What a revelatory 7 minutes that turned out to be! The question being asked ‘Are women’s rights necessary for democracy?’ somewhat threw me because it is such a fundamental assumption of mine that it felt like having to go right back to basics.
As I struggled to find coherent answers and to get the knowledge and lived experience in my head and heart to come out in words that were relevant, there was a strong sense of identification with all those women over the years who have found themselves having to justify their inclusion. For a moment there I felt my indignation rising.
Robert, my opposite number was all in favour of just leaving it to an assumption of equity because we all believe in human rights, don’t we? I pointed out that in reality that doesn’t happen but I could have gone on to say that electoral democracy is one aspect but it does need to be supported by the rule of law and more critically by the respect for individual human rights.
I wanted to be more robust in responding to the assertion that the US didn’t sign treaties because they were deemed ineffective – I was so tempted to point out that women’s rights in the US are being eroded and that US credibility is significantly impaired by their not signing up to tenets of the very treaties they want others to adhere to. But I bit my tongue.
Some of the other things I would have liked to have said:
- I made the point that exclusion and marginalisation destabilises. It would have been good to remember also that the point of democracy is to have more stable societies and a more secure world.
-That UNSC1325 is itself a model of democracy in that it was largely civil society led.
-That of course societies must determine for themselves how they want to govern but that requires encouraging open societies that can hold differing views and that allow for debate in which none are excluded on any basis be it gender, ethnicity, religious beliefs. That means giving all women, at all levels opportunities to voice their needs as equals.
- That there are contemporary ways of creating this space for dialogue like this OD blog. (Sadly I didn’t get a plug in so sorry OD staff!)
-That there is a direct correlation between democratic nations and economic prosperity and that there is a strong correlation between economic prosperity and women’s participation in the life of a nation.
Aah so much to say and so little time. I did realise however that I prefer blog blog to blah blah!
Please do comment as Rosemary suggests – I would love to know how you would have responded.