Iceland, considered a global leader in gender equality, has announced it will send only men to a U.N. conference on women and gender equality, reports ABC.
Minister of Foreign Affairs, Gunnar Bragi Sveinsson told the U.N. General Assembly of world leaders on Monday that the January “barbershop” conference will be unique, “as it will be the first time at the United Nations that we bring together only male leaders to discuss gender equality.”
It won’t however, be the first time in history that male leaders get together to discuss women’s issues, without any women present.
According to Gunnar Bragi, the conference, convened by Iceland and Suriname, is part of the global HeForShe campaign launched this month during a speech by actress Emma Watson. The campaign aims to get 100.000 men and boys involved in the fight for gender equality, which the United Nations had hoped would be achieved by 2015.
That deadline won’t be met; in an interview this year, the head of UN Women, Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka, said projections indicate that if things don’t change, achieving gender equality will take 95 years.
“We want to bring men and boys to the table on gender equality in a positive way,” Gunnar Bragi said, adding that the meeting will have a special focus on violence against women.
Iceland and Suriname fall at nearly opposite ends of global rankings on women’s rights. The Global Gender Gap Report 2013 compiled by the World Economic Forum ranked Iceland top in gender equality in economic, health and other matters. Suriname, the tiny South American country, was ranked 110th.