Invest in Peace and Redefine Security

Have you ever wondered about your government’s spending on the military and the ways in which it impacts the availability of critical social resources? On the first day of the CSW, Monday, March 4, 2013, the Center for Women’s Global Leadership along with partners, the Global Fund for Women and Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom, convened a panel discussion on the intersections of human security, militarism and violence against women. With a packed room, presenters and the moderator Madhu Mehra, APWLD, stressed the need for a more people centered approach to security as well as the importance of the human rights framework in the shaping of fiscal policies.

Radhika Balakrishnan, Center for Women’s Global Leadership, highlighted that the realization of economic and social rights requires much more than rhetoric to be achieved; it necessitates financial resources. She shared that expenditure and revenue needs to be unpacked in an effort to better understand the ways in which governments are supporting or undermining human rights. One question we all need to ask our government is how does the spending on military and defense compare to the spending on education and health?

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Investing in peace requires governments to reallocate financial resources towards initiatives that advance the women, peace and security agenda and Security Council resolution 1325 national action plans, which Azza Kamel, Appropriate Communication Techniques for Development (ACT) and WILPF representative, touched upon during the panel. The increasing militarism, arms flow and violence against women in Egypt threatens women’s rights and the realization of women’s economic and social rights.

As a result of increased militarism worldwide and lack of 1325 implementation, women and girls are left out of peace building processes. Eleanor Nwadinobi, Regional Representative of Sub-Saharan Africa for the DPI/NGO Executive Committee, stressed the importance of including women in peace building processes as well as explained the gendered effects of militarism on women, and the ways in which gender-aware budgeting can help offset some of the negative effects on gender relations caused by militarized societies.

Since the CSW theme was focused on violence against women, panelists made connections between the arms trade and gender-based violence and the unfortunate reality for many women in the world: that peace does not exist and a new definition of peace must be articulated. The linkages between the flow of arms, budgets and gender-based violence are obvious and governments must commit to reallocating resources that support women’s rights.

by Margot Baruch, Economic and Social Rights Program Coordinator, Center for Women’s Global Leadership, Rutgers University

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