Iceland-Suriname ‘Men-Only’ Conference to Include Women Skip to content

Iceland-Suriname ‘Men-Only’ Conference to Include Women

The men-only conference to be held at the United Nations next year to discuss gender equality and violence against women, announced by Iceland’s Foreign Minister Gunnar Bragi Sveinsson during a speech before the UN General Assembly on Monday, will also include women, it has been revealed after organizers received criticism for excluding women.

Gunnar Bragi said in his speech on Monday that the conference is unique because “it will be the first time at the United Nations that we bring together only men leaders to discuss gender equality.” New York magazine’s Katie Zavadski was among those to criticize the event. “There’s something a bit off about excluding women from a conference about women,” she wrote, while Meghan DeMaria wrote for The Week: “It seems a bit odd that Iceland’s conference would purposely exclude women from an event aimed at helping them succeed.”

Ambassador Henry L. Mac Donald, permanent representative of Suriname to the U.N, told Newsweek that the idea had been to create a space for men to talk openly among themselves and figure out how to end violence against women. Describing the event as “male only” was one way to draw the attention of men to the issue and to make sure a solution comes from a “male way of thinking,” he added.

Mac Donald and Gunnar Bragi confirmed that women would be involved in the conference. The foreign minister said the criticism did not come as a surprise, adding that the idea of a men’s only conference was “quite new.”

The conference will look at, among other issues, female genital mutilation, child marriage and honor killings.

Iceland and Suriname fall at nearly opposite ends of global rankings on women’s rights. The Global Gender Gap Report 2013 compiled by the World Economic Forum ranked Iceland top in gender equality in economic, health and other matters, while Suriname ranked 110th.

Gunnar Bragi said it was important for Iceland to share its experience and know-how with countries who have not been scoring so highly in the report.

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