The physical safety of women in a given country is a better predictor of its peacefulness than wealth, level of Islamic influence, or even strength of democracy. Violence against women (including female infanticide and sex-selective abortion) may account for more deaths than all the wars of the 20th century. This kind of cultural aggression likely sparks increased nationalism and, eventually, warfare.
[Rwanda Defence Forces] has been encouraging the deployment of women in peacekeeping and has been providing training and educational opportunities for women. Since last year, RDF has worked with local governments, police and civil society organizations to create more than 400 local anti-sexual and gender-based violence clubs across the country and has trained more than 6000 people for peacekeeping missions.
Then I remembered that Rwanda also has the highest percentage of women in parliament in the entire world. Causation doesn’t equal correlation, for sure, but it’s worth thinking about the role that curbing violence against women has had in the country’s evolution since the 1994 genocide (in which the murder, maiming, and raping of women reached a terrifying peak). Improving technology is certainly helping Rwanda, but improving the position of women is not only a human rights imperative; it is also contributing to the country’s peacefulness.
(image of Rwandan women, from flickr user Women for Women under a Creative Commons license)