"There is no development strategy more beneficial to
society as a whole - women and men alike - than the one which involves women as
." - Kofi Annan
Two Good Movies
Iron Jawed Angels starring Hillary
Swank: dramatizes how suffragists changed the U.S. Constitution to give women
Pray the Devil Back to Hellstarring
the women of Liberia: shows real women demanding and getting peace. Use this link to see a blog post.
See also this AFWW blog post. If we want a model and example of how
women can mobilize and persist over a long period, we need look no further than
the suffragists. If we want a model for how women supported by men can bring an
end to war, we need to study "Pray the Devil Back to Hell."
A Future Without War
Believe in it.
Work for it.
And we will achieve it.
"Activist women--the suffragists--of the late 1800s and
early 1900s and the men who supported them worked to give women the vote.
Activist women of the mid-1900s and the men who supported them worked to give
women equal legal protections and access to jobs and educational opportunities.
For this generation of activist women and the men who support them, their task,
their challenge, could be to abolish war."
La Jolla Rotary, June 2008
Logo of The White House Project Dedicated to Electing Women
This newsletter highlights the role of women and girls
as agents of positive social transformation. The women involved are
progressives. They don't want things to remain the same, or to go back to some
imagined past where men ruled, women knew their place, and things over all were
"much much better."
These individuals see the possibility of an actually
better future for themselves, their children, their and grandchildren. Indeed,
they envision an altered paradigm of how we live as citizens of a more
egalitarian and less violent culture that will shape human lives and societies
into the far distant future. And they are willing to work and sacrifice to
bring those changes into existence.
First, however, we need to consider why not all women
are progressives. Many are not, and will not be. Reasons why are explored by
AFWW Founder, Judith Hand, from several perspectives: biological, sociological,
|Sarah Palin, Conservatives, and Progressives|
"So how do you explain Sarah Palin?" The
founder of AFWW, Dr. Judith Hand, is often asked that question or
some variant of it by skeptics. Hand argues that we could abolish war if our
desire to do it is strong enough, and that one of the critical necessary
requirements of doing so would be the empowerment of women. She argues that
nature endowed women with traits that make them the natural allies of
nonviolent conflict resolution, and that if more women served in government at
all levels, if we had true parity governments, we'd be well on our way to
ending war. Skeptics see women like Margaret Thatcher, the former
Prime Minister of England who took England into war over the Falklands, and the
feisty, gun-toting Sarah Palin as examples that refute Hand's
Dr. Hand answers the skeptics about this seeming
contradiction in a blog essay, "Sarah Palin and why all women are not progressives." Women are
fundamentally conservative, eager to facilitate social stability rather than
change, but they are also fierce fighters in defense of their children. There
is no real paradox. See the essay: "Sarah Palin and Why All Women are Not Progressives"
Projects, and Movements-All Part of Creating a Positive Paradigm Shift
It's estimated that only 1% of the United States population
was actually involved in working to pass the amendment to the U.S. Constitution
that gave women the right to vote. Other estimates are that something like a
mere 15% of any society, if it is a determined and persistent minority, can
become a critical mass sufficient to cause a profound shift in behavior of the
So it won't be necessary to recruit all women to the cause
of ending war. Most women, when
they see what the goal is - a less violent, more peaceful future - and that things
are in fact shifting that direction, most women will climb on board the
ending-war bandwagon. But initially the leadership of this campaign of change will
come from progressive women.
look at the state of women as agents of change to date
A Useful Bibliography
Fisher, Helen. 1999. The First Sex - the Natural Talents of Women
They are Changing the World. NY: Random House. This anthropologist,
now at Rutgers University, was one of the first to write extensively on how
women and men differ in critical traits affecting their lives and their actions
as leaders, and consequently their influence on society.
Hand, Judith L. 2003. Women, Power, and the Biology of Peace. San Diego, CA: Questpath Publishing. This
evolutionary biologist proposed that women have been selected to prefer social
stability far more strongly than men, and as a consequence, women are the
natural allies of nonviolent methods of conflict resolution rather than
fighting. Their participation in leadership is essential to ending war and
perhaps even more critically, to maintaining that state once achieved. See also
her project, www.AFutureWithoutWar.org.
Wilson, Marie. 2004. Closing the Leadership Gap: Why Women Can and Must
Help Run the World. NY: Viking. An advocate of women's issues for more than 30 years,
Marie C. Wilson is founder and President of The White House Project and
co-creator of Take Our Daughters and Sons to Work ® Day. In 1998, Wilson
founded The White House Project in recognition of the need to build a truly
representative democracy - one where women lead alongside men in all spheres.
Mortenson, Greg &
Relin, David O. 2006. Three Cups of Tea. One Man's Mission to Promote Peace...One School at
a Time. NY:
Viking Press. Mortenson's
adventures among remote Afghan villagers led him to conclude that the most
direct and powerful means to transform a village or a town in ways that would
avoid fighting and war was to educate the girls. He has gone on to build
schools with a focus on education for girls. See the website of the Central
Asia Institute: www.ikat.org.
Myers, Dee Dee. 2008. Why Women
Should Rule the World. NY:
Harper Collins. Former White House press secretary Dee Dee Myers
argues, and provides insider and often humorous illustrations showing, that if
women governed, politics would be more collegial, businesses would be more
productive, and communities would be healthier. Empowering women would make the
world a better place-not because women are the same as men, but precisely because
they are women. For an AFWW review of Myers's book and how it relates to war,
& WuDunn, Sheryl. 2009. Half the Sky. Turning Oppression Into
Opportunity for Women Worldwide. NY:
Knopf. New York Times reporters
Kristoff and WuDunn have traveled the world and detected a clear pattern: when
women are empowered with a little bit of money or opportunity, they change not
only their family's fortune, but that of their community. For Kristoff and
WuDunn, women are not the world's problem when it comes to poverty, they are
the solution, and their book provides compelling argument and examples to make
their case. See also their N.Y. Times Magazine Article "Saving the World's Women".
In the extremely short time span covered by just this tiny selection of
six books, from 1999 to 2009, there has been an enormous revolution in the way
women and women's issues are perceived throughout the world. There are hundreds more books and
essays and projects and studies pointing to the same inescapable fact: to
leave girls uneducated and women out of the mainstream of our social, economic,
and political affairs is a tremendous mistake that needs to be corrected ASAP.
The Girl Effect|
Foundation and NoVo Foundation have produced a video and information site
called: The Girl Effect. As the
logo says: "Invest in a girl and she will do the rest."
Check out their extraordinary
video on U-tube. Seriously...you will LOVE this video: http://www.girleffect.org/#/video/
Then check out their pdf fact sheet, a global profile of the status of girls.
AFWW agrees with this insight into the importance of educating
girls. We are moving from
theoretical considerations that are the bulk of our website to embrace a
hands-on project, to be initiated in Africa. The project will design and create non-sectarian,
secondary-level peace and leadership academies. We will begin in either Liberia or Sierra Leone, and we'll concentrate on making sure that girls are
included in numbers to equal the boys. Recognizing as AFWW does that the massive paradigm shift involved in
abolishing war will take male/female partnership, the schools will also include
boys. We'll be looking for A
BOY EFFECT! as well.
Empowering Women - Why
We Need to Do So
Women as Agents of Nonviolent Change
, a Quaker, was
one of the key women behind the movement to make the right to vote a part of
the United States Constitution. She would settle for nothing less. And she did
it using the same nonviolent resistance used at about the same time in India by
is famous for saying, we need to "be the change we want to see." To abolish war
as part of creating a less violent future, we can't use violent means. We'll
have to rely on the nonviolent techniques of change agents like Alice Paul and
Gandhi and Martin Luther King, Jr
nonviolent means enough? Can a change as great as ending war be achieved using
nonviolence? And how do women play a role in making that change happen?
essay by Dr. Judith Hand entitled "Nonviolence: Before Its Time
the works of Alice Paul
, Mohandas Gandhi
, and the "Muslim Gandhi" Abdul
. It explains why nonviolent movements have not yet
changed the world, but why at this moment in history they are now poised to do
so. And why women are key to making it all work.
See "Nonviolent Movements
" for more.
and National Security|
On March 12, 2010, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary
the UN Commission on the Status of Women. Beginning with the extraordinary Fourth World
Conference on Women fifteen years previous in Beijing, Secretary Clinton
outlined the enormous progress women and the world have made in assisting women
and elevating to reality the call she made then that "human rights are women's
rights, and women's rights are human rights." She highlights notable progress
with specific examples. She also limns the huge problems still outstanding. And
she addressed the security skeptics:
"Now, I know there are
those - hard to believe - but there are those who still dispute the importance
of women to local, national, and global progress. But the evidence is
irrefutable. When women are free to develop their talents, all people benefit:
women and men, girls and boys. When women are free to vote and run for public
office, governments are more effective and responsive to their people. When
women are free to earn a living and start small businesses, the data is clear:
they become key drivers of economic growth across regions and sectors. When
women are given the opportunity of education and access to health care, their
families and communities prosper. And when women have equal rights, nations are
more stable, peaceful, and secure."
"....this principle is
also at the heart of the foreign policy of the United States. We believe that
women are critical to solving virtually every challenge we face as individual
nations and as a community of nations."
"President Obama and I
believe that the subjugation of women is a threat to the national security of
the United States. It is also a threat to the common security of our world,
because the suffering and denial of the rights of women and the instability of
nations go hand in hand."
"History has taught us
that any peace not built by and for women is far less likely to deliver real
and lasting benefits. As we have seen from Guatemala to Northern Ireland to
Bosnia, women can be powerful peacemakers, willing to reach across deep divides
to find common ground. United Nations Security Council Resolution 1325 reflects
this principle. Now, we must work together to render it into action and achieve
the full participation of women as equal partners in peace."
There was more meat in this speech. See the full text here: http://www.state.gov/secretary/rm/2010/03/138320.htm
and the Suppression of Women|
The Elders, Jimmy Carter, and an
Indictment of Religion.
In a July 2009 Article, "Loosing My Religion for
Equality," Former U.S. President Jimmy
Carter addressed the relationship between
women, women's rights, the suppression of women, and religion:
attributed to a Higher Authority, has provided a reason or excuse for the
deprivation of women's equal rights across the world for centuries."
Carter is a member of The Elders, a group of senior statesmen and women drawn together by
former South Africa President and Nobel Peace Prize Winner, Nelson Mandela. They "offer
their influence and experience to support peace building, help address major
causes of human suffering and promote the shared interests of humanity." And
they "have decided to draw particular attention to the responsibility of religious
and traditional leaders in ensuring equality and human rights and have recently
published a statement that declares: 'The justification of discrimination
against women and girls on grounds of religion or tradition, as if it were
prescribed by a Higher Authority, is unacceptable.'"
Happily, The Elders "get it."
"The truth is that male
religious leaders have had - and still have - an option to interpret
holy teachings either to exalt or subjugate women. They have, for their own
selfish ends, overwhelmingly chosen the latter. Their continuing choice
provides the foundation or justification for much of the pervasive persecution
and abuse of women throughout the world."
Read the full article.
Global Action - An
End to Discrimination|
Linda Tarr-Whelan, writing in the San Francisco Chronicle, explains why CEDAW, the Convention to End All Discrimination Against Women, is important; it provides a benchmark by which women struggling for change
can assess what remains to be done and by which everyone can see to what extent
progress is being made.
She also points out that as of the date of writing,
December 18, 2009, the U.S. had not signed. The reluctance is over women's
reproductive rights, and the U.S. inaction, as she says, "puts us shoulder-to-shoulder with strange partners - Iran,
Sudan, Somalia and a few small island nations - in failing to recognize the
universality of women's human rights."
"San Francisco adopted CEDAW more than
a decade ago as the basis for women's legal rights in the city. City leaders
began by assessing the different impacts of governmental policies on women and
men. They examined where men's and women's needs are the same, and where they
differ. They asked how they could reallocate resources for the greatest impact.
By 2008, new resources were being made available in San Francisco to meet unmet
needs, such as flexible work schedules citywide. Many more women were appointed
to city boards and commissions. More streetlights were installed to prevent
sexual abuse on city streets."
President Obamahas picked
CEDAW as one of the three top UN Treaties or Conventions for Ratification. Read the full article.
Women are Investing in Social Change|
executive officer of the Global Fund for Women, the largest public foundation
exclusively investing in women's rights groups globally. She serves on the
advisory board of the Gates Foundation's Global Development Program and on the
board of Princeton University. She keeps track of how women are spending and
investing in social change.
moving from being victims seeking help to being change-makers creating a better
future for their communities, families, and most importantly, for their
"At the Global Fund for Women, we hear from articulate and
competent women from every continent who represent a wide political spectrum.
We support women's organizations working on issues of economic development,
education and health but also those crafting new definitions of power based on
collaboration, community and inclusion."
excellent article several years ago for the San Diego Union Tribune, Ramdas
reviewed the status of and effects of these take charge and invest changes.
Read the article.
Female Police Keep Peace in Liberia|
In 2007, the United Nations sent a troop of 105 strong
paramilitary police women from India to help keep the peace in post-conflict
Liberia. This was at the specific request of the first elected female President
on the African continent, Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf. Police
departments in the U.S. and elsewhere have learned that women police officers
bring a calming influence to tense situations, a fact that surely influenced
In 2006 the UN Security Council adopted Resolution 1325which calls for
a full and effective participation of women in peace building, peacekeeping and
So young women of the world born with a spirit of
risk-taking for progress, think about becoming a policewoman, or part of a UN
You can read more about this fascinating action at the UN
Empowering Women Links|
Over the years AFWW has been collecting a list of
links to organizations and groups working to empower women and girls. Globally,
the numbers of these organizations are in the many thousands.
Our list, to which we add names now and then as new
groups come to our attention, now stands at 49. Go there now.
A Future Without War