Iceland And Suriname Are Launching A Mens-Only Conference On Gender Equality

So this is interesting. Iceland has announced it will be holding a UN conference on women and gender equality—that only men are invited to.

No, seriously.

Iceland’s foreign affairs minister told the UN General Assembly on Monday that this “barbershop” conference, to be held in January, will be unique "as it will be the first time at the United Nations that we bring together only men leaders to discuss gender equality."

Not only that, but Suriname, that teensy South American country, is a co-convener of the conference.

I don’t want to be totally cynical as I support men whenever they stand up and openly give a shit about making this world more gender equitable but . . . Iceland and Suriname are leading this charge!? And they are doing it without women?? Maybe it’s all that pesky estrogen clouding my thoughts but as the conference is supposed to center on violence against women, what the hell are they expecting to accomplish without, you know, formally hearing from the people who are affected by this issue?

Obviously good intentions aside, Iceland foreign affairs minister Gunnar Bragi Sveinsson’s little comment, "We want to bring men and boys to the table on gender equality in a positive way," inflames me. Is the insinuation that this cannot be done with the womenfolk present? (I'm here to tell you once and for all that the cooties rumors are not true.) And since when are we hailing an all-male gathering as a unique, some sort of landmark event?

Isn’t this like, a 100% lopsided representation exactly what the UN's new HeForShe Campaign is designed to combat?

Call me daft, but I am truly failing to see why women can’t be involved in a discussion that hinges on women, or how it’s not just blatantly offensive that they aren’t. It would be like convening a House of Representatives meeting on birth control with an all-male panel. OH WAIT.

Violence and discrimination against women affects . . . women. And the last thing we need to combat this global scourge is to be kept out of the conversation about it.

Mysteries abound.

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