Soldiers walking in desert landscape
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Lancet report: Gender equality and health equity are able to contribute to peace on earth


Gender equality and fairer access to health and social care are essential if the world is to gain peaceful societies. This is the conclusion drawn by an in-depth international scientific report in The Lancet, co-initiated by Professor Peter Friberg at the University of Gothenburg.

The report shows how societies and countries can leave harmful patterns of injustice and violence behind them and shift to more positive spirals of justice and peace.

Peter Friberg
Photo: Cecilia Hedström

“Naturally, conflict and war come about due to many complex factors, but our report shows that there are fundamental prerequisites for achieving more stable societies. We have brought together the scientific evidence and made it accessible to world leaders,” says Peter Friberg, Professor of Global Public Health at Sahlgrenska Academy at the University of Gothenburg and co-chair with shared leadership of the Lancet Commission.

Another important key message of the report is that this change has to happen from within the countries themselves, on their own terms, and that it will take a long time.

Transformative factors

The report Lancet Commission on Peaceful Societies through Health Equity and Gender Equality shows that improved health equity and gender equality are transformative. These key factors bring other positive developments in their wake, so laying important foundations for the society’s path to peace and wellbeing.

Peter Friberg points out that the report’s publication is very timely, as the world is currently being ravaged by overlapping crises. Many countries are at war or suffering conflict, in the Middle East and Africa, and in Europe too. Wars and the pandemic have given rise to economic uncertainty and food insecurity. At the same time, the world is being hit by climate events from droughts to cyclones.

“The world is experiencing a kind of polycrisis, in which several interconnected challenges are intensifying suffering, damage and chaos. We hope and believe that the report will be a wake-up call for global leaders, prompting improved capacity to develop effective political measures and sparking more positive societal development,” says Peter Friberg.

A group endeavour

The Lancet has launched specific commissions on topics of crucial importance to global health and people’s lives on a number of occasions. The initiative for this commission came jointly from Richard Horton, Editor-in-Chief of The Lancet, and Peter Friberg, Professor of Global Public Health and Director of the then Swedish Institute for Global Health Transformation (SIGHT).

“The Commission brought together researchers in peace and conflict research, sociology and political science and in medical fields from a large number of countries. This coming together of inter-disciplinary research was vital to the Commission’s ability to fulfil its remit,” says Peter Friberg.

Work began in 2019, with a focus on the interplay between three of the UN’s Sustainable Development goals: good health and well-being (SDG 3), gender equality (SDG 5) and peace, justice and strong institutions (SDG 16).

Amy Alexander at the University of Gothenburg has also contributed to the report. A university lecturer and associate professor in the Department of Political Science, she conducts research on gender, gender equality and politics.

The Lancet Commission’s report on peaceful societies through health equity and gender equality will be launched on Thursday afternoon at an online event attended by the chair of the Commission, former President of Finland, Tarja Halonen.

Link to the report: