Iceland has announced a UN conference on women and gender equality - at which only men will be invited. In what has been dubbed the “barbershop conference", it will be the "first time at the United Nations that we bring together only men leaders to discuss gender equality", according to the country's Foreign Affairs minister Gunnar Bragi Sveinsson.
"We want to bring men and boys to the table on gender equality in a positive way," Sveinsson said. He said the meeting will have a special focus on violence against women.
It is aimed at being part of the global campaign launched this month when actress Emma Watson articulated the urgent need to bring men into the fight for gender equality.
“In 1995, Hillary Clinton made a famous speech in Beijing about women's rights,” Watson said.
“But what stood out for me the most was that only 30 per cent of her audience were male. How can we affect change in the world when only half of it is invited or feel welcome to participate in the conversation?”
The 1995 conference featured Clinton, then first lady, galvanizing global leaders with her now-famous declaration that "women's rights are human rights." Nearly 190 countries adopted a platform to achieve equality for women, which has become the blueprint for action by the global community on the issue.
Iceland and Suriname are now leading a group of countries to stir up support for gender equality as the anniversary of the landmark Beijing meeting approaches.
Earlier this year, U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said Clinton will play an important role in next year's anniversary celebration, and Clinton said she looks forward to working with Ban on an issue "of such great global importance."
Hillary Clinton famously declared 'women's rights are human rights' in 1995 Hillary Clinton famously declared 'women's rights are human rights' in 1995 At a separate event this year, Clinton said that in the nearly two decades since Beijing, "women and girls still comprise the majority of the world's unhealthy, unfed and unpaid." She urged the U.N. to include gender equality at the forefront of its new goals to promote development.
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.