Pretty statement, too bad it is a crock of window dressing–from Critical Role of Women in Peace and Security, an address given by Melanne Verveer, Ambassador-at-Large for Global Women’s Issues on July 27, 2010:
President Obama’s National Security Strategy recognizes that “…countries are more peaceful and prosperous when women are accorded full and equal rights and opportunity. When those rights and opportunities are denied, countries often lag behind. Furthermore, women and girls often disproportionately bear the burden of crises and conflict. Therefore the United States is working with regional and international organizations to prevent violence against women and girls, especially in conflict zones. We are supporting women’s equal access to justice and their participation in the political process…”
And, Secretary Clinton has often said: “Women’s rights and women’s issues cannot be an afterthought in our foreign policy; they must factor centrally in how we look at the world. We have made women a cornerstone of our foreign policy not only because we think it’s the right thing to do, but also because it’s the smart thing to do.”
Well yes, it is the right thing and the smart thing to do, but a cornerstone of our foreign policy? Who knew. Seems to me that is only true when it is expedient.
The President’s and Secretary’s words are matched by actions.
Really, do tell:
Let me focus on Afghanistan. I want to welcome and recognize Palwasha Hassan, who is here from Afghanistan and who has been a leader in her country. She participated in the Kabul Conference, and we look forward to hearing from her.
At the International Conference on Afghanistan, in London earlier this year, Secretary Clinton emphasized that women need to be involved at every step of the way in the process of building Afghanistan’s future; and she introduced the Women’s Action Plan, which is incorporated into our U.S. Afghanistan and Pakistan Regional Stabilization Strategy. As Secretary Clinton said, “the plan includes initiatives focused on women’s security, women’s leadership in the public and private sector; women’s access to judicial institutions, education, and health services; and women’s ability to take advantage of economic opportunities, especially in the agricultural sector.” This is a comprehensive, forward-looking agenda. She also emphasized the role that women must play in the reintegration and reconciliation process as it goes forward.
That’s nice that Clinton said that, but,
Afghan women were not included in the Afghan Government’s official delegation to the London conference and only one Afghan woman was permitted to speak on behalf of civil society as part of the official conference program.
Meanwhile in the U.S. peace movement…David Swanson has a lengthy summary of the recent peace strategy conference held in Albany, NY. There are 24 points in the summary but the one that caught my eye was this,
21.We call for the equal participation of women in all aspects of the antiwar movement. We propose nonviolent direct actions either in Congressional offices or other appropriate and strategic locations, possibly defense contractors, Federal Buildings, or military bases in the U.S. These actions would be local and coordinated nationally, i.e., the same day for everyone (times may vary). The actions would probably result in arrests for sitting in after offices close. Entering certain facilities could also result in arrests. Participants would be prepared for that possible outcome before joining the action. Nonviolence training would be offered locally, with lists of trainers being made available. The message/demand would be a vote, a congressional action to end the wars: Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan. Close U.S. bases. Costs of war and financial issues related to social needs neglected because of war spending would need to be studied and statements regarding same be prepared before the actions. Press release would encourage coverage because of the actions being local and nationally coordinated.
One line that doesn’t seem to have any connection whatsoever with the rest of the item somehow doesn’t speak equality or an understanding of of the issue to me. As those of you who were here when this network began know, my motivation for starting this forum was to provide women with a safe and nuanced space to fully empower their voices in the peace movement. If this summary of the Albany conference is indicative of where the peace movement is, devoting one disconnected afterthought of a line to the role of women in the peace movement should tell us that spaces such as the Feminist Peace Network are still badly needed and that we have a long way to go in truly critiquing the peace movement from a gendered lens.