Since the onset of the Russo-Ukrainian War in February 2022, countries have felt ripple effects caused by their dependence on Russian oil. Europe has been particularly impacted by their dependence on Russian energy, and is consequently, rethinking its reliance on certain energy sources. The significance of the energy sector and the need for alternative sources has become increasingly apparent for Europe’s economy. However, the overreliance on Russian oil may also affect gender inequality and non-European countries’ peace and security for years to come.
Women, Peace, and Security
In 2000, the United Nations adopted Security Resolution 1325, which established the Women, Peace, and Security (WPS) international agenda. In 2017, the WPS Act codified the agenda into U.S. law. WPS recognizes the disproportionate effect of conflict and violence on women and girls as well as the important role women play in peace and security. Research shows a direct connection between the treatment and empowerment of women and girls at the household level and a country’s stability and likelihood to enter conflict. In fact, high sex inequality makes a nation twice as likely to be a fragile state, 3.5 times more likely to have an autocratic and corrupt government, 1.5 times more likely to be unstable and violent, and 1.3 times more likely to experience terrorism. Simply put, the treatment and role of women and girls in society directly correlates with a country’s long-term peace and security.
Today, the treatment of women and girls at the household level may be directly impacted by increasing gas prices and food shortages caused by the reliance on Russian energy. In African countries such as Somalia, Kenya, and the Democratic Republic of the Congo, gas prices have greatly increased, as have food prices where communities rely on trucks to deliver food. Maureen Miruka, the CARE Kenya Country Director, noted that Kenyan women will be greatly affected, noting that “Whenever incomes in homes are negatively impacted, we have always noted an increase in gender-based violence against women.”.
What Might the Future Hold?
WPS acknowledges that violence against women impacts the long-term stability of the communities and countries. It destabilizes communities and limits women’s ability to meaningfully participate in society. What will this mean for countries where violence against women increases as gas prices and food shortages increase?
Overdependence on energy from Russia is a sharp reminder of the need for innovation in the energy sector and for alternative and diverse energy sources, and the need for this may reach far beyond Europe’s economic concerns. While continents and countries recognize direct immediate effects, the possible long-term and indirect effects of energy insecurity on women and girls and therefore peace and security cannot be overlooked.