Women’s Issues Are Not A “Niche”

On August 22, “A Question of How Women’s Issues Will Fare, in Washington and Overseas” was published in The New York Times. The article framed “women’s issues” as separate from the challenges facing the world as a whole, including the problems we face now in Syria:

Others see women’s issues as a marginal focus when there are so many violent conflicts around the world.

“Certainly the problems specifically affecting women in Syria are not unimportant,” said Kenneth M. Pollack, a former staff member of the National Security Council who is now a scholar at the Brookings Institution. But in such a humanitarian catastrophe, he said, “until you have an answer to the military problem in Syria, you can’t solve any other problem.”

This framework diminishes the human rights of women and the essential solutions they bring to bear on every issue and conflict we face around the globe.  MADRE submitted this response to the editors:

To the Editor:
Re: “A Question of How Women’s Issues Will Fare, in Washington and Overseas” (Aug. 22):
One of the biggest challenges facing Catherine M. Russell as the new ambassador at large for global women’s issues will be people’s failure to understand her job title.
Women’s issues are not a niche. These are the issues that confront half of the world’s population, and they are integral to every single one of the State Department’s agenda items.
For instance, it is nonsensical for anyone to assert that women’s issues should be “a marginal focus when there are so many violent conflicts around the world,” while violence against women is rampantly used as a weapon of war. This is a wrongheaded and harmful perspective that Ms. Russell must confront head on.
As we seek to address climate change, solve poverty, forge peace, promote democracy and more, there are no solutions without women.
Sincerely,
Yifat Susskind

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