In the political dialog regarding Gaza as is so often the case in war and violent conflict, the voices of women who stand in opposition to the reign of terror that is taking place are being all but silenced by both the media and governmental bodies. Despite mandates such as United Nations Security Council Resolution 1325 which mandates consideration of the impact of conflict on women’s lives as well as the full participation of women in all peace negotiations, the wisdom and concerns of women are systemically ignored.
As Margot Wallström, Vice-President of the European Commission and Chair of the Council of Women World Leaders Ministerial Initiative, points out,
“We may have accepted in principle that politics should include both women and men, but this has not been adequately applied to foreign and security policy. A recent report by Operation 1325, a Swedish umbrella organisation working for women and peace, revealed that nine out of ten civilians sent to work in conflict areas are men. Women are not regarded as having enough knowledge or competence in security questions and, as a result, European peace-making missions remain a project by and for men.
Given the often determinate role that women’s organisations have played on the ground in conflict resolution, it is absurd that they are so under-represented in the international work in this field. Not only does it reflect an important limitation to democracy, it is also a threat to global security and to women across the globe. By excluding women from conflict management, we exclude a female perspective and experience that could contribute to peace building projects that better correspond to the real needs of all those affected by conflict.”
As the violence and its consequences continue unabated, it is urgent that we listen and pay heed to the brave and eloquent women in Gaza, in Israel and throughout the world who are speaking out and taking action to end the atrocities that are taking place in Gaza.
Feminist groups and pundits were the first to come out against the Gaza operation from its outset. In an op-ed for Maariv/NRG Sunday, feminist activist Dorit Rabinovich called upon Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni to oppose the war.
“In a move that is nothing but pure chauvinism and sexism, made up of slogans about invasion, occupation, penetration and a disregard for the will of the public in the country, this is Livni’s time to say ‘enough’ to the government’s rape of society,” she wrote.
Rabinovich predicted that soon, hundreds of thousands would take to the streets against the war, and the pundits will also come out against it. As a precedent she cited the successful protest by women’s groups against the IDF security zone in Lebanon, which was aided by feminist journalists like Shelly Yechimovich (now a Labor MK). That movement is credited with causing then-Prime Minister Ehud Barak’s decision to withdraw from Lebanon in 2000.
On Monday, a coalition of Israeli women’s groups filed a complaint against Israel to the United Nations Security Council. The groups claimed that Israel is not complying with a law passed in 2005 that requires the participation of women in the Israeli government’s decision-making forums.
Gaza resident Dr. Mona El-Farra is providing updates on From Gaza With Love where she recommends donations to help Palestinian women and children be made via the Middle East Children’s Alliance.
(W)e want to emphasise that the involvement of women in any peace negotiations is necessary. We would like to remind the UK about that On 31 October 2000, the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) unanimously adopted Resolution 1325 which recognises the disproportionate and unique impact of armed conflict on women as well as recognizing the under-valued and under-utilized contributions women make to conflict prevention, peacekeeping, conflict resolution and peace-building, and stresses the importance of their equal and full participation as active agents in peace and security. In view of this, we would like to know what steps are being taken to incorporate a gender perspective on any and all peace efforts. Is the UK government ensuring that appropriate women are involved in decision making at all levels in the conflict resolution and peace processes?
We look forward to meeting with you urgently.
The Women’s International League For Peace and Freedom (WILPF) has a statement here that ends with this excellent quote from the Israeli Women’s Coalition for Peace:
“The dance of death and destruction must come to an end. We demand that war no longer be an option, nor violence as strategy, nor killing an alternative. The society we want is one in which every individual can lead a life of security – personal, economic, and social.”
About 200 Indonesian women protested against Israeli military strikes in the Gaza Strip outside the Egyptian embassy on Friday.
Carrying posters showing wounded and dead Palestinian children, they urged Egypt to open its border with Gaza for the delivery of humanitarian aid.
“Implores that women from both sides of the Gaza territories be bought into a peace process. Women from both sides have established peace principles long before men were shaking hands for television cameras. As leaders, mothers, daughters and citizens of their nations they are in the best position to bring about peace, best stated in a 2008 article by Israeli feminist peace activist Gila Svirsky “Our principles went beyond the general assertion of ending hostilities….not just ending the Israeli occupation, but shaping a shared future of cooperation….opposition to militarism that permeates both societies, an equal role for women in negotiations for peace and a society that cares more about education, health, art and the poor than it does about maintaining a deadly arsenal” (Off Our Backs/, June 2008).”
(Please note–with Gila Svirsky’s kind permission, I have re-posted her article that is referred to above here. While it was written before the current conflict began, it offers an important alternative to envisioning a true peace process for both Palestinians and Israelis.)
In Israel: Boycott, Divest and Sanction, Naomi Klein examines why an economic boycott of Israel is a potent tool for ending the violence and eloquently rebuts the arguments that have been made against this strategy.
And finally, Women of Colour Network Australia examines why what is happening in Gaza is a feminist issue, examining the following questions:
- What is the value of a Palestinian life?
- Is the current Israeli bombing of Gaza a feminist issue?
- What actions can those of us who are far away from Palestine take to ensure solidarity with the Palestinian people?
The Feminist Peace Network will continue posting the wise voices of women addressing the crisis in Gaza. Below is a list of earlier posts addressing the current situation. Here also are links to other recent posts regarding Gaza:
Feminist Perspectives On Ending The Israeli Occupation And Getting To Peace With The Palestinians By Gila Svirsky Jewish Women In Toronto: Gaza Is Not In Our Name (video of the sit-in at the Israeli Consulate in Toronto
Gaza: Diary of a Massacre
Jewish Canadian Women Occupy Israeli Consulate in Toronto
When We Are Persuaded That The Safety Of Our Nations Depends On The
Cold-Blooded Murder Of Children, We Have No Future-Tell Obama You Want The
U.S. To Support A Ceasefire In Gaza NOW
McKinney Calls On Obama To Speak Out About Humanitarian Crisis In Gaza
Joint Statement From Israeli Women’s Groups On The Violence In Gaza
Starhawk on Gaza: “I Just Don’t Get It.Or Rather, I Do.”
Statement On The Violence In Gaza