Women’s Security Key to State Security

Jun 11, 2009

Experts in international conflict and security studies often examine indicators such as democracy and democratization; cultural differences in ethnicity, language and religion; and state levels of poverty and inequality to understand why some states are more violent than others. Gender status should be added to that list, according to a recent edition of a Harvard-published scholarly journal on international peace studies.

In “The Heart of the Matter: The Security of Women and the Security of States,” published in the Winter 2008/09 edition of International Security, the authors note the links between gender status and a country’s economic prosperity and growth, the health of its populace, and levels of political corruption and civilian trust in government. Authors stress that it’s impossible to distinguish cause and effect with complete certainty and urge other researchers to study state security “through the lens of gender,” co-author Bonnie Ballif-Spanvill told the Salt Lake Tribune.

The authors recommend that security experts not overlook gender status in states. “Security is a garment that must be woven without seam: if we are not paying attention, the loose threads of women’s systemic insecurity will unravel peace for all.”

Instead of quantifying rape or sexual assault in a particular country, the researchers sought out qualitative information, such as the level of victim support and to what extent abusers are punished, to find the nuances between statistics, laws and customs to find meaningful and reliable measures for women’s security.

To read the entire study, click here.  

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