We would love to begin our first blog in 2020 with the simple wish of an inspiring year. But it would not feel right to put a mask on and let the current incidents stay unspoken. 

Only eight days into 2020, the year already seems like an uncontrollable chaos.

Our social media feeds are flooded by impressions of the devastating consequences of global warming in Australia, threats of the US and Iran to escalate war in the Middle-East and images of once vivid cities in Syria, now left in rubble.

The escalating violence between the US and Iran is repeating the darkness of history and fuelling proxy wars at the expense of civilian’s lives, civilian’s safety and civilian’s security in the Middle East region. WILPF has formed part of the many voices calling for an immediate stop to the escalation of military attacks and demanding direct negotiation and mediation efforts. 

In this same period, we have received heartbreaking updates from the province of Idlib (northwestern Syria), where 300,000 civilians have been forced to flee their homes in only the latest wave of displacement. Many have been left wounded or lost their lives between demolished hospitals and schools, trying to escape the rain of airstrikes by Russia and the Syrian regime since early December. And statistics show that at least half a million would be forced to do the same in the coming weeks if Russia and Syrian airstrikes continue. 

The center of our partner organisation Women Now for Development in Maarat al Numan (south of Idlib) has been completely destroyed. Luckily all staff are safe, but this center in particular has defied all odds since its establishment in 2014.

In Iraq, the nationwide wave of peaceful protests demanding reforms and an overhaul of the corrupt ruling regime have been faced with violence, leaving more than 500 unarmed protestors dead and thousands of injured and arbitrarily detained. The repressive regime in Iran also cracked down on peaceful protestors since November, causing a bloodbath that the country has not seen since 1979.

And if we move to another continent, then WILPF Nigeria and WILPF Cameroon are reporting on violence in several regions. Just this last Monday, many people were killed on a crowded bridge in the northeastern Nigerian state of Borno after an improvised explosive device detonated. 

Move the Money from War to Peace

Members of WILPF have been protesting for peace, justice and equal rights around the world including in the US. 

Did you know that the US President just spent $2 Trillion on military equipment?

Imagine what we could do with the $2.000.000.000.000 spent by the US Government on military equipment within the first five days of 2020? 

– $1 can pay for a bus ticket to get to a local election to vote for a female candidate.

– $1.000.000 can on average provide 7,633 girls with a quality primary education in low-income countries.

– $100.000.000 will fund demining efforts in Western Sahara.

– $100.000.000.000 will cover universal, fee-free primary and secondary education for 2.5 years

Still, governments continue to spend tax money on the war and destruction of our planet rather than in peace for our people. 

New Year – New Challenges – New Strength

As we enter 2020, WILPF members are organising locally and globally to act for peace. Our analysis underlines the links between militarism, the economics that fuel it, the gender relations that support it, and the inevitability of climate destruction if we fail to address all of these root causes of war and violence.

Our time is now, let us make sure we use it right!