By Ute Scheub*
The establishment of the new UN women’s organisation UN Women is prompting a lively debate on gender equality within the UN. An international panel is due to complete studies that will formulate the best policy, but there is dispute surrounding its composition. Which countries, which political movements and which institutions should be represented? A deadlock has been reached and everything is at a standstill.
A group of renowned female Nobel Prize winners, economists and peace women is eventually making a political breakthrough with the “Happiness 2.0”-memorandum. They are presenting conclusive scientific evidence showing that the longer-term alternative is either the joint demise of all nations with the deaths of millions of people or the combined creation of an eco-social economy where women have a higher profile. There will be a disastrous lose-lose situation if patriarchy plus climate crisis plus militarism plus financial capitalism continue in the same vein, but there will be a win-win situation if women and men set a joint course for disarmament and a Green New Deal.
This reasoning is, in essence, purely mathematical. If the female half of the population is involved on an equal footing in enhancing public welfare then a nation can develop twice as quickly. If, however, it is controlled by the male half of the population and kept behind closed doors, a nation will stagnate or even sink into poverty because both genders will waste their time with unproductive behaviour. Building up arms is always counter-productive because weapons have to be ‘used’ during warfare. Peace-keeping and the establishment of an eco-social economy are best achieved with the involvement of women. Not because they are better people, but, as many scientific studies have shown, because women pay greater attention to the common good on account of their other social roles and greater distance from military activities, violence and positions of power.
The memorandum identifies a close connection between (gender) egalitarian circumstances and the mental satisfaction of the population and in the process refers to the latest happiness research. Above a per capita annual income of approx. EUR 20,000, subjective feelings of happiness and satisfaction no longer increase even if prosperity continues to rise. These feelings even decrease if some population cohorts are richer than others because in an attempt to rectify this difference and accumulate additional wealth, people end up on a never-ending ‘treadmill of happiness’, which, in turn, further fuels financial market greed and environmental degradation. Countries with comparatively better equal opportunities are, on the other hand, demonstrably more successful, more stable and more eco-social and their populations are clearly more satisfied with their lot. According to surveys, not only women, but also men in these countries are happier, healthier and less stressed; they also live to a much older age than their counterparts in patriarchal societies. The Scandinavian countries are proof of this phenomenon together with some remaining traditional matriarchal societies such as the Mosuo in China, the Karen in the Himalayas, and the population in the Mexican state of Yucatán. This is also proven by eager-to-learn post-conflict countries such as Liberia or Rwanda which are consistent in promoting women.
The ‘Happiness 2.0’ memorandum is published on the Internet and with the support of progressive media and foundations presented and discussed in numerous newspapers, magazines, radio and TV broadcasts. There is a huge amount of largely positive feedback also because a worldwide alliance of well-known male personalities, including Nelson Mandela, Archbishop Tutu, Richard Gere, Mohammed Yunus and Bruce Springsteen, is campaigning for the memorandum.
After its publication, UN organisations and member states take comprehensive action. The UN General Assembly elects a female Secretary-General to present a ten year plan for implementing the ‘Glück 2.0’ recommendations. These include
* the equal inclusion of women on all national and international policy, security policy and economic decision-making bodies;
* the gradual disarmament of all national armies linked with the consistent promotion of crisis prevention and civil conflict management;
* worldwide staunch support for organic farming and female smallholders producing foodstuffs.
Huge disruptive action follows by lobby groups from the defence and agricultural industries and a few radical men’s rights activists, who are unwilling to be controlled. However, the Wikileaks hackers publish the plans of these lobbyists and vigilant civil society groups succeed, after fierce power struggles, in largely suppressing their media shenanigans. This happens because the alliance of male personalities supports committed groups of men worldwide and subsequently demonstrates that a different sort of masculinity is possible. A man can be strong, caring, paternal, committed, love passionately and live without violence on a constant basis. These positive examples and role models are able to assure many men who have previously reacted with diffuse anxiety or aggression towards their alleged loss of status.
A lively public debate ensues over the forthcoming years within all important international bodies, and nations and institutions vie for proper implementation. A Parliamentary Assembly is set up within the UN, i.e. a type of world parliament involving MPs and civil society where the best models of success from all nations and regions are presented:
*Bhutan’s codification of happiness as state objective number one,
*Sweden’s equal opportunities policy,
*Norway’s promotion of women in the economy,
*Rwanda’s continuous promotion of women,
*Austria’s Protection against Violence Act,
*Costa Rica’s rainforest protection and renunciation of a national army,
*South Africa’s progressive ‘rainbow’ constitution,
*Brazil’s fight against poverty,
*Germany’s Renewable Energy Sources Act,
* Germany’s Crisis Prevention, Conflict Resolution and Post-Conflict Peace-Building Action Plan (which is ultimately promoted according to its importance)
*Plus numerous other examples from regions and cities, for example, the unconditional basic income in Omitara / Namibia.
In the future it will be an honour for every country, every state and every village to be presented as a model of success in the World Parliament. The discussions in this reformed UN are less like the traditional parliamentary debates and more like an international learning academy; success stories are the subject of multimedia presentations and are transmitted live across the world via the Internet.
The feedback is overwhelming. Best-practice examples are conveyed in this manner to the furthest corners of the globe and reproduced there.
In this way the millennium development goals will still be realised by 2015 although in 2010 it looked as if they were set to fail. A climate agreement, which seemed unachievable after the collapse of the climate summit in Copenhagen, may be reached amazingly quickly because the negotiations are being conducted mostly by women with diplomatic negotiating skills; even Saudi Arabia sent a female delegate. Hunger, poverty, disease, environmental disasters and illiteracy are falling, in particular in those regions that are most proactive in terms of promoting women and girls. The number of wars and armed conflicts is decreasing, the more so since the UN Security Council is decreeing a worldwide strict ban of the export of weapons, mines and small arms. Domestic violence rates and acts of violence against ethnic and religious minorities are also declining.
So is everything in the garden rosy? No. There are still powerful men, who have taken umbrage and are hurt at their loss of status. It’s true that Ahmedinejad in Iran will ultimately still be swept away by a green revolution, that the unorthodox dictators in North Korea and Burma are standing down, that the whole of Al Qaida and the Taliban leadership are being washed away by new tidal waves of the Indus River in Pakistan and that Putin is being fatally injured by a bear in a media exhibition fight; but, at the anniversary of Resolution 1325 in 2025, the aged Thilo Sarrazin, Geert Wilders, Henryk Broder and Silvio Berlusconi step in front of the cameras to complain verbosely about the demise of the world in general and the loss of their masculinity in particular. Everything has become so tedious, says Wilders regretfully. Freedom is at risk, the place is crawling with do-gooders, warns Sarrazin gloomily. Since the worldwide suppression of prostitution and trafficking in women, there are no adventures to be had any more, rant Broder and Berlusconi.
A merry band of young men from Greenpeace invite Sarrazin, Wilders, Broder and Berlusconi on a dinghy trip to protect the whale: “If you are man enough, step on board and fight! The whales will love you more than the women.”
* Ute Scheub is a journalist and author in Germany and the coordinator of the 1000 Peacewomen Across the Globe for Western Europe