After backlash, security forum adds women to all-male panel on 'women's contributions'
A screengrab shows the speakers first scheduled for the panel titled Security Solutions, Women’s Contributions at the Halifax International Security Forum.
TORONTO -- The organizers of the Halifax International Security Forum have added two women speakers to what was originally an all-male panel about role of women in global security following public outcry about gender inclusivity.
The panel, titled “Security Solutions, Women’s Contributions,” was scheduled to be moderated by Steve Clemons, and featured Admiral Rob Bauer, chief of defence for the Netherlands Armed Forces, Atul Khare, undersecretary general for operational support for the United Nations, and General Stephen Wilson, vice chief of staff for the United States Air Force.
Joanne Bernard, a former Nova Scotia Liberal MLA and cabinet minister, called the panel “insulting.”
“There are just so many examples of women doing the work in this field, and for men to think that they have the ability to speak about contributions of women, therefore expertise, their work, their experiences, it’s offensive,” she told CTV Atlantic.
Bernard posted a tweet on Thursday, which sparked a conversation about the all-male panel and their role in talking about women. Her post prompted several people to voice their frustration under the hashtag #manels.
Clemons, who has since been replaced as the moderator by Janice Stein, a professor of conflict management and founding director of the Munk School of Global Affairs and Public Policy, first expressed his concern on Twitter.
“I love the Halifax International Security Forum but panel I’m slated 2 moderate on women’s contributions to Nat Security should include their voices,” he posted Friday afternoon. “This needs to be changed.”
Jody Thomas, Canada’s deputy minister of national defence, has also been added to the panel.
'Panel was not an accident': organizers
The organizers of the security forum, which brings in 300 participants from 90 countries, said the initial participants were chosen on purpose.
“This panel was not an accident,” said Paz Magat, the director of the forum’s Peace with Women fellowship, on Friday. “We are hoping to have a meaningful conversation about what it's truly going to take to elevate the role of women. In order to really leverage the human capacity of all the people involved, we still need the people in positions of power to let us do that.”
Bernard said it just doesn’t make any sense that accomplished women in the security field weren’t originally included to “tell their own stories and present their own work.”
The panel will take place Sunday as part of the 11th annual conference at 10:30 a.m. with Bauer, Thomas, Khare, Wilson and Stein.