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Madeleine Rees on Brexit

25 June 2016

Inequality between people and between nations… a root cause of war. WILPF was right in 1915 and now we see what can happen when it deepens and is globalised.

Brexit is the result of a combination of two manipulated narratives: migration, and the need for austerity. The latter has lead to greater inequalities in the UK than are sustainable, the right as usual, is able to find an “other” to blame for those inequalities and framed the debate as one of migration, this they blame on Europe. No point in telling the truth of the numbers and the economic advantages/ necessities of migration, the truth is irrelevant. What happened was the manipulation of an impoverished working class, impoverished as a result of the neo liberalism of the conservative party, by the extreme right of that same party and the neo fascism of Nigel Farage. The media delighted in misinformation. There was violence and murder. This is not democracy and it is frightening. And as if that were not bad enough, Britain sold out its younger generation who voted by large majorities to remain in the EU.

There is a real fear that the hatreds unleashed by the poisonous campaign will not be easily appeased. France and the Netherlands now want their referendums and in both cases it is the extreme right calling for them on the same narrative of hatred that won it in the UK. There is real fear over Ireland and even over Gibraltar. How quickly this is unraveling into the next phase: Militarism as a way of thought; the attendant creation of violent masculinities. It has already started.

As a peace organisation we have a great responsibility. We have to prevent what has started from descending even further into chaos. For WILPF Sections in Europe, we need to develop a real and coherent strategy of engagement which will bring both human rights, law and decency back into preeminence. We keep calm and we carry on, but with much more urgency than before.

On a personal note I am greatly saddened. female wrestling

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WILPF Afghanistan

In response to the takeover of Afghanistan by the Taliban and its targeted attacks on civil society members, WILPF Afghanistan issued several statements calling on the international community to stand in solidarity with Afghan people and ensure that their rights be upheld, including access to aid. The Section also published 100 Untold Stories of War and Peace, a compilation of true stories that highlight the effects of war and militarisation on the region. 

IPB Congress Barcelona

WILPF Germany (+Young WILPF network), WILPF Spain and MENA Regional Representative

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WILPF uses feminist analysis to argue that militarisation is a counter-productive and ill-conceived response to establishing security in the world. The more society becomes militarised, the more violence and injustice are likely to grow locally and worldwide.

Sixteen states are believed to have supplied weapons to Afghanistan from 2001 to 2020 with the US supplying 74 % of weapons, followed by Russia. Much of this equipment was left behind by the US military and is being used to inflate Taliban’s arsenal. WILPF is calling for better oversight on arms movement, for compensating affected Afghan people and for an end to all militarised systems.

Militarised masculinity

Mobilising men and boys around feminist peace has been one way of deconstructing and redefining masculinities. WILPF shares a feminist analysis on the links between militarism, masculinities, peace and security. We explore opportunities for strengthening activists’ action to build equal partnerships among women and men for gender equality.

WILPF has been working on challenging the prevailing notion of masculinity based on men’s physical and social superiority to, and dominance of, women in Afghanistan. It recognizes that these notions are not representative of all Afghan men, contrary to the publicly prevailing notion.

Feminist peace​

In WILPF’s view, any process towards establishing peace that has not been partly designed by women remains deficient. Beyond bringing perspectives that encapsulate the views of half of the society and unlike the men only designed processes, women’s true and meaningful participation allows the situation to improve.

In Afghanistan, WILPF has been demanding that women occupy the front seats at the negotiating tables. The experience of the past 20 has shown that women’s presence produces more sustainable solutions when they are empowered and enabled to play a role.

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