Historically, women have been absent and often prevented from participating An most debates on international relations, power, statecraft, economics, and education. Using gender as a lens through which to frame and consider policy is a relatively new consideration, even though women account for almost half of the world's population. In the twenty years since "women's rights" were declared "human rights," thereby placing gender equality on the international agenda, women are still being characterized as a vulnerable group. Without deeper reflection, the public debate about gender inequality revolved largely around disparities and gaps--the lack of women in high-level government decision-making and executive positions, for instance--which perhaps explains why policies do not take their specific needs into account. The current discussion has overlooked potential opportunities to include both men and women when discussing paths forward.
As scholars of public policy, we are aware of the interconnectedness of these issues, since they affect both developed and developing countries from war zones to the boardroom and from the negotiating table to policymaking. The editors have solicited articles from academics, experts, advocates, and activists to analyze and assess public policy as it relates to gender. This collection of articles, interviews, and commentaries explores the potential implications of new thinking and innovation on economic empowerment, development capabilities, poverty reduction, political parity, and security sector representation through the gendered lens of international affairs. This issue also explores the opportunity for reevaluation post-conflict--whether after the global financial crisis of 2008 or the Arab Spring revolutions and how disorder can level the playing field.
Yasmine Ergas, a professor of international affairs and Director of the Specialization on Gender and Public Policy at Columbia University's School of International and Public Affairs, opens the issue with an analysis of gender in international affairs, exploring how changing institutions and frameworks have led to increased discussion of gender issues. Ergas argues that promoting gender equality policies requires coordination, not conflict, between institutions and academics--a symbiotic relationship in which the strengths of each mutually reinforce the other, advancing the concept of gender mainstreaming.
The next section examines domestic policy...