Or that nearly a decade after the adoption of UN Security Council resolution on women, peace and security, concrete steps to empower and protect women remain largely a dream deferred for those facing abuse, displacement and alienation in wartime. Instead of hiding behind impunity, UN officials would be wise to learn the salutary lessons of gender bias lawsuits against the U.
State Department. In fact, the suit filed by Alison Palmer in and a class action suit she filed with nine other women five years later and settled in has helped reform, rejuvenate and deepen the State Department and the conduct of U. Overt discrimination — including an unspoken rule that required single women to resign their commissions if they married — and explicit sexual harassment were vanishing, but a pernicious pattern of subtle discrimination remained well in place.
The effects were felt at each level. Enter Ms. Palmer sought assignment to substantive positions in Africa. Her only option was to serve as social secretary to the wife of the U.
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Outraged, she initiated research to document that these discriminatory patterns extended writ large throughout the State Department. Finding that they did, she filed suit — first alone, then with other women — under the Civil Rights Act of , which bans sex discrimination in federal employment. The legal action had a long and torturous history. Eventually, however, the tide turned and rulings started to favor the plaintiffs.
Several new class-action suits were launched by other women, and about discrimination complaints were filed against the State Department each year after Faced with the prospects of losing the case, the State Department agreed to a settlement in May under the auspices of the District Court of Washington, D. While no longer disputing its bias against women, the State Department still sought to limit the remedies. In the end, about women received compensation; stretch assignments were granted to a small number of women; and some others were offered high-level posts.
Many credit these changes more than the lawsuits with promoting progress. But this should not negate two important effects of the lawsuits. Longer-term structural changes and a change of culture were required.
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Concrete steps were taken. State Department recruiters targeted women to increase their numbers in the testing pool, and pre-examination coaching was offered to women applicants. Written and oral exams were subjected to careful scrutiny by outside experts and changed to eliminate gender bias to the extent possible. So were criteria for promotion, assignments, and performance awards. Increasing numbers of women were brought onto the board of examiners and the promotion boards, and a prestigious new award was created to honor Foreign Service personnel who promote the role of women in foreign policy formulation.
Grievance structures were improved and streamlined for those alleging gender-based discrimination, and whistle-blower protection was mandated. A conscious policy of gender balance in high-level political appointments to the State Department has been a feature of most Administrations several decades. Have these corrective measures had the desired effect? Certainly, the statistics suggest that they have. Indeed, the current policy planning head, Anne-Marie Slaughter, is the first woman to ever serve in that role, breaking a string of 24 male predecessors.
All things being equal, the odds against 24 men being appointed consecutively to this position would be At the marquis showcase of American diplomacy — the U. Over-all, about 30 percent of U. It is reasonable to assert that the increasing sight of pants-suit mingling comfortably with the striped-pants set is a reason why the last three presidents have each named a woman to be Secretary of State — Hillary Clinton, Condoleezza Rice, and Madeleine Albright. It is more difficult and perhaps premature to assess whether these changes have had a qualitative impact on U. Still, it is clear that the expanded participation of women is bringing broader perspectives into play.
Change is afoot. The question for the UN is whether a similar process can be launched through affirmative action by its leadership in the absence of the threat of punitive lawsuits.
Faced with a seemingly endless list of international crises and conflicts, declining financial and personnel resources, and huge competing demands for his attention, can the Secretary-General afford to devote the time and energy required to effect a change in culture within the United Nations? She also draws on Crisis Group recent work in northeastern Nigeria and Syria.
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Ignoring the most pressing challenge facing us rather than take up the consistent action it demands is all too easy when you are only pushing trendy hot buttons of emotive reaction for quick electoral gains. Conservatism as political philosophy is a dead end because compulsively insisting on affecting an illiberal attitude is not just anti-progressive, it is stupidly self-defeating.
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The blanket refusal to include future probable developments in present planning is ridiculous. One may as well deny man-made civilization has any responsibility to physical nature at all. Neo-con ideology is a non-starter. It has no actual ideas, good or otherwise, only vague superstitions.
This yet evolving issue of a powerful central government collecting info on personal communications by mining autonomous streams of meta-data is trending in an interesting direction. Since it is becoming apparent that e-commerce in general is vulnerable as people consider their reluctance to being unwitting subjects of zombie voyeurism on the sly, the developing position among major players in the cloud renting business now favors reforming official policy and increasing operational transparency.
Though their aim is obviously self serving it is not without merit, opting in seats for executives from tech companies to serve on the boards administering oversight of these arrogant institutions of token electronic security inherited from the belligerent Bush era. Centuries of constant attempts at rationalizing excuses for slavery allowed for the perpetual exploitation of minority populations.
An infamous history of racial oppression in turn set up an even more ambitiously sweeping policy of redistributing all wealth into bank sized pockets of tycoon corporations. Institutionally ignored economic apartheid now effectively condemns middle class workers to relative poverty under the thumb of elite owner-overseers, making it impossible to earn wages necessary for sustainable survival in a financial environment dictated by that insane predatory autocracy intent on enshrining profits over people.
We need to replace disembodied political government by unthinking subscription to big business with real public administration focused on the actual experience of people. This repeated moronic insistence that a minimum support level cannot be written into any plan for regulating the economy without depriving the poor of opportunities to toil on chain gangs for a pittance is the transparent ploy of insatiable antagonism.
It is a capital offense of unacceptable social immorality. The persistently idiotic argument is pedantically trotted out that a young person from some better off background does not deserve equal pay with the breadwinner needing to provide for a family living in impoverished conditions, thus denying any appeal to tie legislated base pay nationwide to rises in the cost of living.
In a very real sense both sides of an armed conflict are ganging up against everyone else. Non-combatants are caught in the crossfire of increasingly urbanized warfare, trapped with no means of escape. The modern battlefield makes inadequate distinction between legitimate targets and innocent civilians.