Justice, Development, Equality, and Peace: Why Not?
Cora Weiss, President of the Hague Appeal for Peace
“We need women with courage to call for alternatives to war, to call for reallocation of the trillions now wasted on wars and an out of control arms trade, for the abolition of nuclear weapons, women who will welcome our sons raised by feminist mothers…”
The UN Commission on the Status of Women (CSW) this year is convened for a review and appraisal of the Beijing Platform for Action. At an initial meeting held on February 18th, the NGO Committee on the Status of Women (NGO CSW), in collaboration with the UN Division for the Advancement of Women (DAW), brought five women speakers and Canadian Ambassador Stephen Lewis to a so-called roundtable for an hour and a half, expecting to engage the several hundred women in the audience in a dialogue. At the meeting, woman speaker after speaker gave statistical reports on how many more, or less, women are literate today, or poorer, or more or less educated. The quantity never gave way to quality, so we don’t know if women or girls are learning about gender equality, human rights, social and economic justice, non-violence, or whatever else it will take to make a culture of peace.
Not one speaker referred to UN Security Council Resolution 1325 (SCR 1325) the 10-year-old, civil-society-driven landmark law that calls for women’s participation at all levels of decision making, prevention of armed violence and protection of women during conflict. Nor was SCR 1820 on Women, Peace and Security and sexual abuse mentioned. No one spoke of the massive consequences of war, or the fact that war is not women’s history, as Virginia Woolf taught us. No one spoke of the obscenity of diverting desperately needed resources for women’s development to war and the arms trade. Not one woman called for women to be at every table where the fate of humanity is at stake, as Bella Abzug preached at Beijing.
Only Stephen Lewis insisted that women and children are not one word, as the Beijing Platform would suggest. Women need their own agency, children have one, UNICEF, he declared. “Modest, only infinitesimal, progress has been made since Beijing”, he said with honesty, and called for the emergence, at last, of the international agency for women, GEAR – not as a catalytic advisory body, but as an operational body working on the ground with adequate funding. “The UN represents all member states, but if it can’t represent 52% of the world’s people it shouldn’t be in business.”
I used to say, women, women everywhere, but not enough in power. And now, with tea party women claiming space, I say it takes more than ovaries. We need progressive women, women who support gender equality, peace, development and justice. We need more women in the UN like Helen Clark the new head of the United Nations Development Program (UNDP), Michele Bachelet now in Haiti for UNIFEM, and Margot Wallstrom, the Special Representative of the Secretary-General on Sexual Violence in Conflict.
We need women with courage to call for alternatives to war, to call for reallocation of the trillions now wasted on wars and an out of control arms trade, for the abolition of nuclear weapons, women who will welcome our sons raised by feminist mothers, so women and men will work together for a future where poverty will no longer be tolerated, where illiteracy will be unheard of, where women and men will have equal access to fair employment, and everyone will enjoy health care.
There is too much at stake. Oceans are rising, cancers are spreading, people are trafficked and in slavery, rape is the cheapest weapon of war, women are seen as victims, not resolvers and initiators and peace makers. It does not have to be this way. What would be wrong with a democratic world with justice, equality, development and peace?
Excerpt from article originally posted on opendemocracy.net. Reposted here with permission from author.