UNITED NATIONS (AFP) – A controversial con-ference on gender equality opens at the United Nations on Wednesday with its focus squarely on getting men and boys engaged in promoting women’s rights.
Organised by Iceland, the “Barbershop Con-ference” draws global ambassadors and UN officials into a conversation about what men can do to stop violence against women and advance equality.
Iceland, home to Europe’s first female pre-sident, had initially touted the event as a men-only conference but decided to include women in some sessions in response to criticism.
“There is a need to engage men more,” Ice-land’s Ambassador Greta Gunnarsdottir told AFP. “When you look at meetings on gender equality, wherever you go, the vast majority are women in attendance.” “The point is not to exclude women, but to include men,” she said.
The barbershop theme is meant to evoke a space where men can speak with ease – even at the United Nations where more than 160 of the 193 countries are represented by men.
The conference hopes to build on the HeForShe Campaign launched last year with British actress Emma Thompson.