Foreign Policy Blogs

Sex and World Peace

Sex and World Peace

It’s a pretty provocative title, no doubt about it. Unfortunately, “The very best predictor of how insecure and unstable a nation is not its level of democracy, but the level of violence against women in society” is just not quite catchy enough.

Sex and World Peace was published in April of this year (available here), and to celebrate, the Environmental Change and Security Program at the Wilson Center in Washington, DC hosted an event with two of the book’s co-authors. I am not going to go into detail on the event as this has already been done very well on the ECSP’s New Security Beat by Kate Diamond, where she also highlights the challenge of convincing skeptics that a link between gender and stability exists.

An interesting point raised in the book is that of a “clash of gender civilizations”. Working from a decade’s worth of research results, the authors found substantial support for the idea that gender inequity is a very likely candidate for being the engine of state conflict. In those states where a larger gender gap and fewer rights for women exist, the authors discovered that they also tend to have higher levels of both perceived and actual corruption, lower national incomes, higher and less sustainable fertility levels, and a greater likelihood of both inter- and intra-state violence.

At the April event, co-author Valerie Hudson aired the idea that “…we would have more success in helping the international system be more peaceful if we concentrated…more on holding nations accountable to their obligations under CEDAW [the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women].” For some states however, this would (and in my opinion, should) rank below concentrating on feeding the starving and trying to end on-going conflict. But I do think Ms Hudson makes a valid point. Ahem, America, currently involved in Iraq and Afghanistan, perhaps start by ratifying CEDAW?

A webcast and podcast (available for free download) of the event are available on the dedicated event page.

Image courtesy fatedsnowfox/flickr, available here. Licensed via Creative Commons: Attribution-NonCommercial 2.0 Generic (CC BY-NC 2.0)



Cate Mackenzie

Cate works as an editor in Zürich, Switzerland. She holds an MA in Comparative and International Studies from ETH Zurich, and a BA (Hons) in International Studies with Political Science from the University of Birmingham (UK).

She has previously lived and worked in Fiji and the US.