During the 16 Days of Activism Against Gender Violence, the call is to bridge women’s rights, human rights and peace movements to challenge militarism and end violence against women.
For decades women’s rights, human rights and peace movements have advocated for the use of peaceful strategies to end conflict and violence and achieve women’s rights. These movements challenge the social structures that allow discrimination to continue. While we may have different approaches to bringing about a more just world, advocacy in these areas is inherently tied to challenging militarism and putting forward peaceful, feminist alternatives.
Feminist theory emphasises the need for a multisectoral approach, which entails examining the ways in which issues such as food security, environmental degradation, corporate interests, reproductive and sexual rights, poverty, religious intolerance, racism, etc., are implicated in militarism. Recognising such connections highlights the ways in which different movements can gain from addressing and eroding militarism. Given these linkages, and to spark transformative change, it is crucial that women’s rights, human rights and peace movements share information. Similarly, international conversations are important for demonstrating the ways in which peace at home extends outward and relates to peace in the world.
For many people, feeling safe and secure has little to do with arms or the military. Rather, security is about freedom of movement, freedom of expression, having a job, food, and access to clean water, being in loving relationships, and more. A human rights approach which prioritises women’s realities can help facilitate these aspirations and promote the fact that peace is necessary for the achievement of development and genuine security.
When addressing major power structures that promote and perpetuate violence against women, it is sometimes difficult to know where and how to begin. One question to ask is, “Who profits?” Conflicts are often related to the control of resources within what is often referred to as the military industrial complex. Within this context, the production and sale of weapons continue to be a leading global industry. In addition, military and rebel groups are often complicit in human rights violations and in using resources obtained through conflict to fund wars. Related entry points include advocacy around national budgets, military spending, foreign and military aid, and multi-national corporations directly and indirectly involved in conflict areas.
Regardless of which “entry point” you choose, we hope you will reach out to new partners in various movements during this year’s campaign. Through collective action, we can make a much bigger impact!
- Lobby your government: The UN Security Council has passed a number of resolutions (1325, 1820, 1888, 1889, and 1960) related to women, peace and security, and governments are asked to make commitments to implement them. Ask your government how it plans to act on these resolutions, and lobby for women’s participation in decision making at all levels on peace and security issues, including: peace negotiations; demobilisation; disarmament; repatriation; resettlement and reintegration; reconciliation and reparation processes; and peace-building, recovery and reconstruction efforts.
- Bridge movements: Leading up to the 16 Days Campaign, reach out to women’s rights, human rights, and peace organisations that you haven’t worked with and ask them to partner with you on an event during the campaign. If possible, host planning meetings ahead of time so that you can learn more about each other’s work and perspectives.
- Monitor government spending: The Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom (WILPF) has been gathering information on countries’ military expenditures and has put together a guide for comparing military spending [http://www.wilpfinternational.org]…
- Follow the money: Governments aren’t the only ones involved in the business of war. Research which companies benefit from conflicts or use “conflict minerals”, and write a complaint or consider boycotting their products.
- Celebrate: Having positive role models and hearing success stories about women’s peaceful activism are crucial for the growth of the movements. These accounts inspire us to carry on with our activism in difficult times and remind us that we are part of a powerful global effort. During this year’s 16 Days Campaign celebrate the positive role models in your life and share stories about other women making change around the world. Visit Peace Women Across the Globe to read about the 1,000 women nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize in 2005 and learn more about their courageous and creative work for peace and social justice! [http://www.1000peacewomen.org].
What does security mean to you?
Additional resource: (A Take Action Kit is provided by the Centre for Women’s Global Leadership for the 16 Days of Activism Against Gender Violence. Each year the toolkit is updated to match the year’s theme. This is available at http://16dayscwgl.rutgers.edu/)
Amnesty International: http://www.amnesty.org/en/human-rights/human-rights-by-topic
AWID: Building Feminist Movements: http://awid.org/Our-Initiatives/Building-Feminist-Movements-and-Organizations
FemLINK Pacific: www.femlinkpacific.org.fj
Gender Action for Peace and Security: http://www.gaps-uk.org/
Global Day of Action on Military Spending: http://demilitarize.org
Global Network of Women Peacebuilders: http://www.gnwp.org/
Human Rights Watch: http://www.hrw.org/
International Peace Bureau: http://ipb.org/i/index.html
NGO Working Group on Women, Peace and Security: http://www.womenpeacesecurity.org/
WILPF. (2009) You Get What you Pay For. Available online from the Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom: http://www.peacewomen.org/portal_resources_resource.php?id=528
Women, War and Peace (UN Women): http://www.womenwarpeace.org/