Worldwide, militarism continues to be a significant source of violence against women, from the domestic sphere of the home to civil war and international conflict. This year’s 16 Days of Activism Against Gender Violence Campaign seeks to highlight the linkages between gender-based violence and militarism through our 2012 Campaign theme, From Peace in the Home to Peace in the World: Let’s Challenge Militarism and End Gender-Based Violence! Coordinated by the Center for Women’s Global Leadership (CWGL) at Rutgers University, the 16 Days Campaign serves as a global advocacy campaign to increase awareness about gender-based violence and call on governments to respond, protect, and prevent such violence.
Militarism not only undermines women’s rights as a whole, but also women’s dignity and bodily integrity. Militarism creates a culture of fear, supporting the use of violence, aggression, and military interventions for settling disputes and enforcing economic and political interests. While often being used in the name of “security,” militarism typically has the opposite effect, causing violence and preventing peace.
Women and men worldwide are organizing hundreds of initiatives to challenge militarism and gender-based violence in their communities and world. Activities range from dialogues with local policymakers in Botswana and documentary film screenings in Egypt, to pledges by police and firefighters against domestic violence in England and a 940 kilometer walk across Malaysia.
For the 2012 16 Days Campaign, CWGL joins women’s, peace, and human rights groups across the globe in challenging militarism, ending gender-based violence, and promoting a culture of peace. I am thrilled to kick off the CWGL 16 Days Blog, which will feature insights by activists worldwide on their experiences working to end violence in their communities. Guest bloggers include Masa Amir, researcher at Nazra for Feminist Studies, writing on state response to women human rights defenders; Sharon Bhagwan Rolls, Executive Director of FemLINKPACIFIC, discussing radio as a tool for social change; and Mabel Bianco, President of Fundacion para Estudio e Investigación de la Mujer, on challenging cultural norms through art.
In addition, the Center has launched The Security Project, aimed at questioning traditional definitions of security to consider what human security really means to all of us. Often when we hear about security, it is defined by the state, in terms such as the presence of military personnel, checkpoints, and the right to bear arms. But do we define our own sense of security in these same terms?
We invite readers to share your thoughts through our anonymous, three-question survey. Your feedback will help guide our advocacy on state spending priorities and national budgets, work toward developing a renewed understanding of what human security means for all of us, and help us realize human rights and peace for all.
Already in the responses we have received thus far, key patterns are emerging in how members of civil society envision a more peaceful world, hinting at the steps necessary to achieve sustainable development and long-lasting peace. To end violence against women, women’s rights must not be seen as one dimensional. Women’s experiences of violence are manifested in multiple forms of discrimination, and greatly influence their access to economic, social and cultural rights. Violence against women cannot be adequately addressed unless States also address land rights, healthcare, education, access to justice and legal mechanisms, and the larger economic, social, cultural, and political context in which women and men live. Only then can we truly have an equitable and peaceful world.
by Julie Ann Salthouse, Violence Against Women Program Coordinator, Center for Women’s Global Leadership, Rutgers University