Iceland Is Having A Conference On Gender Equality And Only Inviting Men. Not Kidding

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what-the-hellOn the heels of Emma Watson‘s amazing UN speech about the necessity for more male involvement in gender equality issues, Iceland announced during a speech before the United Nations that they would be hosting a conference on women and gender equality. I was not surprised to hear this, as Iceland is known for being a more progressive place for women and champion of women’s rights. I was surprised to hear that the conference is for men only. How can you have a conference on gender equality with only one gender represented?

From The Independent:

In what has been dubbed the “barbershop conference”, it will be the “first time at the United Nations that we bring together only men leaders to discuss gender equality”, according to the country’s Foreign Affairs minister Gunnar Bragi Sveinsson.

“We want to bring men and boys to the table on gender equality in a positive way,” Sveinsson said. He said the meeting will have a special focus on violence against women.

I want to give the idea the benefit of the doubt – I really do. But a conference on gender equality where women will be intentionally left out of the conversation is unfathomable. There is nothing revolutionary about getting a group of men together to affect change. That’s basically what has been happening since the beginning of time. Women need to be included. That is kind of the point. Women belong in this conversation.

Can you imagine a conference on race relations that only invited white people? How about a meeting about city plans that didn’t include any residents?  You can appreciate the steps Iceland has taken for women’s rights while still believing that this is a horrible idea.

Emma Watson’s now famous UN speech summoned men to the gender equality fight. She said, “Join Us,” not “Fix this for us.” She specifically made reference to the male absence in the fight for equality:

“In 1995, Hillary Clinton made a famous speech in Beijing about women’s rights,” Watson said.

“But what stood out for me the most was that only 30 per cent of her audience were male. How can we affect change in the world when only half of it is invited or feel welcome to participate in the conversation?”

The answer is not, “by only inviting the other half.”

You can not positively affect change in equality by leaving women out entirely. This should be a no-brainer. This should not even need to be said. I guess we are all supposed to feel grateful for this gesture? I can’t help but feel we have been sent to the kitchen to clean up the dishes while the men retire to the den to drink their brandy and discuss “important things.”

Thanks, but no thanks. Join us, don’t exclude us. This is the root of the problem. I can already hear the chorus of “you can never make a feminist happy” when we actually have the nerve to speak up about how ridiculous this concept is. Let me be the first to confidently say THIS IS RIDICULOUS.

(photo: chrisdorney/ Shutterstock)