Jene McCovey, CAWA Policy Chair on Environment


Peace and Conflict: Racial and Tribal Justice
Elahe Amani, WIN Global Council Chair, in conversation with Jeff Adachi, San Francisco Public Defender, and Devorah Major, San Francisco’s third Poet Laureate

By Madeline Duckles, Chair, Peace Policy Task Force

See Previous Reports: 1996


The international acceptance of the Beijing Plan of Action at the 4th World Conference on Women in relation to women in conflict areas, and recognition of rape as a war crime, was considered a great achievement in 1995, but there has been no implementation of these principles. The treatment of women since 1995 in Kosovo, Colombia, Rwanda, Sierra Leone, Chechnya, Darfur – and now Iraq continues to be barbaric and brutal.

Women in the United States have a special responsibility because the US initiated pre-emptive war against Iraq in March 2003, causing disastrous consequences for the people of Iraq. Many Iraqis are displaced in their own land, without electricity, potable water and access to medical care. Over 2000 US soldiers have been killed, and the number of Iraqi civilian dead is estimated at 100 times that number. Each time our military calls for an air-strike, more civilians die or are severely wounded.

US military bases are now being consolidated as permanent bases to occupy Iraq into the future. Our actions have alarmed other nations; and while the US is recognized as the military superpower, this has led to an increase in weapons buildup around the world. The military expansion of the US, the rejection of the Land Mines Treaty, the failure to implement the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty , the deployment of the missile defense system (Star Wars) in Alaska, research on new nuclear weapons and now the possibility of new expenditures for weapons in space is a terrifying prospect for other nations. Nuclear weapons are seen as the ultimate defense in this the 60th anniversary of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Our leaders, as well as those of other nations appear to have forgotten those 84,000 deaths with one nuclear strike in Hiroshima, with thousands more suffering into the present from radiation related illnesses. We must make those in power recognize that a nuclear exchange could mark the end of humankind.

Women in California must continue the work to visit our representatives’ and senators’ offices, to write letters and make telephone calls, organize and educate our organizations and contribute money to effect a change in leadership. We do this in the face of the best public relations that money can buy as corporate advertising “supports the troops”. A soldier dies “in defense of his or her country”, fear is used to gain continued support for war and terrorism, a monstrous tactic anywhere, is used to frighten us into curtailing our civil liberties. Militarism is penetrating our culture – in pop music, TV scenarios, films and fashion. “Violence becomes us”, as Governor Schwarzenegger demonstrated in his public support for the armed vigilantes taking the law into their own hands on our borders.

A notable achievement by women since the Beijing conference is UN Resolution 1325, passed unanimously by the United Nations Security Council on October 31, 2000. This resolution, the work of many women’s NGOs, calls for gender sensitivity in all UN missions, INCLUDING PEACEKEEPING, for women to participate equally at all negotiating tables and for the protection of women and girls during armed conflict. Now we need governments to implement this resolution!

Our humanity demands that we renew our efforts, with consistent and imaginative actions, such as Code Pink and the “Military Fashion Show” created by Women of Color Resource Center. Let us begin with a campaign to demand that Governor Schwarzenegger brings back The California National Guard.