Women have always been thought of weak, not intelligent enough and what not and have been kept away from issues of war and security. War, security, and battles have always been tagged of things that men are interested in. They have always been sidelined for dealing with things around the household, reproduction, and beauty. This has been a struggle for women since the longest time. An instance can be found in Aristophanes’ Lysistrata where an Athenian magistrate asks the women, “And where do you get off taking an interest in war and peace?” Even now, females are struggling to provide an answer to that question.
Recently, an outrage has grown amongst public about the missing status of women in panels. India is going through quite a season with different changes in policies. The disproportionate compositions of these panels are brought into the spotlight where women are absent altogether. These men-led panels, or ‘manels’ as it is famously being called, are thriving on the biases that put female experts outside the scenario. This bias is built on the age-old prejudice that ergo machines, missiles, and military strategy are synonyms for masculinity and do not go well with ‘femininity’.
Studying security has always excluded women. Attributes like strength, aggression, resolve, and pragmatism are never associated with females, the feminine identity always centers on softness, gentleness, emotional, weak, and less realistic. This has quite generally led to creation of sub-fields in the domains. Amidst the imbalanced compostion of panels, females are still struggling to acclimatize to the scenario. They have to look beyond the bias and be confident to be able to host a ‘manel’ as confidently as her male counterpart. Merit-based parity is something to look forward to for women. A great instance of that is the Munich Security Conference’s Women’s Breakfast where not a man remains in sight. It is, indeed, possible for women to compete in a male-centric world and join in on panels!