Women, Peace and Security Index
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Women, Peace and Security Index
1 November @ 1:00 pm - 2:00 pm
The status of women offers key insights into a nation’s prosperity and security. The first-ever Women, Peace and Security Index offers a comprehensive measure of women’s well-being and empowerment in homes, communities, and societies. Drawing on internationally recognized data, it ranks 153 countries on women’s inclusion, justice, and security, and reveals important patterns as well as major gaps. We will discuss where the direction of travel has been positive, where women’s personal and collective freedoms are being compromised, and what can be done to unlock women’s economic and social contribution.
By kind invitation of Baroness Mary Goudie, The Henry Jackson Society is pleased to invite you to join Dr. Jeni Klugman, Managing Director of the Georgetown Institute for Women, for a discussion on the key insights the WPS Index provides on the global state of the women; areas emerging as priorities for action to improve women’s inclusion, justice, and security; and how data can be better used to promote and support women’s rights, sustainability and peace.
Dr. Jeni Klugman is the Managing Director of Georgetown University’s Institute for Women, Peace and Security and a fellow at the Kennedy School of Government’s Women in Public Policy Program at Harvard University. She recently became VicHealth’s second leading thinker, together with Professor Iris Bohnet, under an initiative that aims to make behavioral insights practical and accessible for Victorian government, industry and not-for-profit organizations. Previous positions include Director of Gender and Development at the World Bank, and director and lead author of three global Human Development Reports published by the UNDP. Jeni sits on several boards and panels, including for the World Economic Forum and the Journal of Human Development and Capabilities. She holds a Ph.D. in Economics from the Australian National University, and postgraduate degrees in both Law and Development Economics from the University of Oxford where she was a Rhodes Scholar.
Laura Hughes is a Political Correspondent at the Financial Times, where she covers a number of briefs that cover issues facing women. She has covered the gender pay gap, lack of female representation in parliament, as well as concerns that the UK’s new universal credit benefits system has increased the risk of domestic abuse. Laura also covers the environment and health, in addition to following the ups and downs of the Conservative party. Before joining the FT in January, she led an investigation into the culture of sexual harassment in parliament, a topic she has continued to lead on in her current role
Emily Winterbotham – Senior Research Fellow in the National Security and Resilience programme at RUSI focusing on extremism and radicalisation, countering violent extremism, peacebuilding and geopolitical relations in Asia, particularly in Afghanistan and Pakistan. She has over eight years desk and field experience in an international policymaking environment and is a Deployable Civilian Expert for the UK Government’s Stabilisation Unit.
Baroness Goudie is a passionate advocate for the rights of women and children, who works globally to promote gender equality, women’s rights and peacebuilding. An advisor to the Georgetown Institute for Women, Peace and Security; she also sits on the boards of the London School of Economics’ Centre for Women, Peace and Security; the Women’s Forum; and Gender Action for Peace and Security (GAPS). She is also a trustee of the El-Hibri Charitable Foundation, which fosters interfaith dialogue to help solve global challenges, and is an active ambassador for ICRW, a global research institute that empowers women, advances gender equality and fights poverty. She was a founder of the 30% Club steering committee, which aims to bring more women onto corporate boards and was a member of the Select Committee on Sexual Violence in Conflict, that considered the UK’s policy and practice for preventing sexual violence in conflict.
Sophia Gaston is the Director of the Centre for Social and Political Risk, based at the Henry Jackson Society, of which she is also the Deputy Director. A social and political researcher specialising in qualitative fieldwork, she conducts international, citizen-focused projects on social and political change, the media and democracy – with a focus on threats to governance in Western nations.
The Henry Jackson society was proud to host a discussion of the first-ever Women, Peace and Security Index at the kind invitation of Baroness Goudie in the House of Lords. The WPS Index represents a new set of metrics compiled by the Georgetown Institute of Women, Peace and Security under the leadership of Dr Jeni Klugman, the Institute’s Managing Director. The index provides key insights on the global state of women, using statistical analysis to break down global, regional, and state-by-state trends to uncover priority areas for action to improve women’s inclusion, security, and justice, while also exploring how data can be used to support and promote women’s rights, sustainability and peace.
For this discussion we were delighted to be joined by an expert panel consisting of Dr Klugman, the report’s lead author; Laura Hughes, political correspondent at the Financial Times; Emily Winterbotham, Senior Research Fellow in the National Security and Resilience programme at RUSI; Sophia Gaston, the Director of the Centre for Social and Political Risk at the Henry Jackson Society; and our chair, Baroness Goudie, a passionate advocate for women’s and children’s rights who sits on a number of boards related to gender equality and women’s advocacy.
Baroness Goudie introduced the panel and handed over to Dr Klugman to present the key findings of the first WPS Index and to establish the context of the report. Dr Klugman began by explaining that this Index was designed to present the assembled data in a way that is digestible within the busy schedule of any everyday Baroness, Lord, MP or a policymaker of any kind. Dr Klugman had noticed that while there has been an increase in the number of global indices there was a gap in the data in the area of women’s security. Conflict indices generally miss out the gender aspect while women’s indices focus on important areas such as education and social inclusion but did not ask questions about women’s security in their homes or their communities. This index therefore bridges that gap.
This first edition covers 153 countries, placing Iceland at the top and Syria and Afghanistan joint-last. Going deeper into the data the Index finds states that over or under perform relative to their regions and these comparisons are more relevant. While nations such as the AUE, Nepal and Jamaica fall close to the global average, they are outperforming similar nations within their regions, while Azerbaijan, Myanmar and the Central African Republic are lagging behind even their regional peers. Another contextual factor is GDP. Money matters, but not as much as might be thought, as there are several nations that score highly despite a weaker GDP than their peers, while the Arab nations generally underperform considering their economic advantages. The Index also picks out more detailed patterns around conflict, such as the data showing that countries in the midst of conflict feature have a risk of intimate partner violence that is a third higher than nations at peace.
The Index is to be fully updated next year. Dr Klugman also reflected on advances that can made in the analysis, such as breaking down the differences between certain areas in larger nations such as India or Nigeria. Ultimately, the hope is that this Index can be a means to develop a toolkit to analyse and address issues around women’s security around the world.
Following this our other speakers reflected on the Index as well as their own experiences. Laura Hughes has covered politics and gender in the UK extensively in the Financial Times including issues around sexual misconduct in the Houses of Parliament. Laura reflected on some of the current issues facing women in the UK such as problems around the single payment system in Universal Credit and the underrepresentation of women in politics, showing some of the issues in developed nations that work like Laura’s journalism and the WPS Index can highlight. The Index and other work like it are a useful tool for journalists to hold governments to account.
Emily Winterbotham spoke next. Emily has extensive experience looking at women’s issues in underdeveloped nations having spent six years working in Afghanistan. Emily highlighted Dr Klugman’s point that increased spending does not equal success, noting the continued issues in Afghanistan despite the huge investment that has taken place there. Emily also noted a tension in making progress on these issues, as while statistically having a greater number of empowered women leads to safer societies, violent extremism still emerges in advanced societies, endangering women. In addition, measures taken to empower women can put them in danger. The experience of female policewomen in Afghanistan was that they were vulnerable to shocking crime. Critically, what is needed is female perspectives, as even a gender neutral view tends towards a masculine norm.
The final panellist to speak was Sophia Gaston. Sophia’s work looks at populism, including how populism interacts with women’s empowerment. Sophia pointed out that increasing liberalism is being mediated and issues that were considered closed are being reopened, citing examples such as the Romanian referendum on repealing same-sex marriage and the debate on Rowe v Wade in the USA. Sophia reflected on the fact that a number of women vote for populist parties, even though to other women this appears to be against their interests, and argued that we must find the reasons for this, suggesting that it may in part be down to populist interventionism on the welfare state and the economy, the effects of which often impact women first. Populists depict themselves as bastions against political correctness, but political correctness, when it is appropriate, elevates equality and acts as a corrective to the influence of the majority or the most powerful.
This was followed by a series of audience questions that raised a number of interesting implications for the Index and further shed light on the potential for its use. The Henry Jackson Society is deeply grateful to all of our guests and panellists and to Baroness Goudie for her kind invitation.
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