Nordic Ambassador’s in Indonesia pledge to end all-male discussions

Afghan women attend a consultative grand assembly, known as Loya Jirga, in Kabul, on April 29, 2019. – Reuters

As the world celebrated International Women’s Day on Monday, male ambassadors and foreign representatives in Indonesia’s diplomatic circles took a diversity pledge to decline speaking engagements in all public discussions where women’s voices are not represented, The Star reports. 

The pledge called “No Manel Panel” is a call to end the all-male panel discussions and part of a move to ensure equal representation of both men and women. The pledge was first initiated earlier this year by Valerie Julliand, United Nations resident coordinator for Indonesia and currently, 40 embassies in Indonesia have taken this pledge, including the four Nordic embassies of Denmark, Sweden, Norway, and Finland. 

Under this pledge, male diplomats vowed only to participate as speakers in public discussions, conferences, and webinars where women are present on the panel – as experts, not facilitators or moderators.

In a statement on 14 January, Valerie Julliand said, “‘Manels’ do not represent the diversity of the world we live in and deprive us of a more holistic, innovative and insightful perspective on any given discussion or topic.” Julliand added that ‘manels’ are manifestations of sexism and exclusion, “which may reinforce the gender stereotype of men commanding authority or superior expertise, even when there are equally – if not more – qualified women whose contributions are undervalued or left out.”

In a joint interview with the Ambassador of Canada in Indonesia, Lars Bo Larsen, Danish Ambassador to Indonesia stated that diversity adds good elements to a discussion and excluding women would mean that half of the world’s talents were essentially excluded from talks. “If there are no female [figures] at the table, men tend to be more stupid, frankly speaking,” the ambassador said.

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