Today, 14 April 2014, marks the 4th consecutive year of the Global Day Against Military Spending (GDAMS) promoted by the International Peace Bureau (IPB). Falling for the second year on the day of the release of SIPRI report on national military spending.
WILPF International Secretariat reached out to WILPF Sections for support. By using the Stockholm’s International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI) database they were able to put together the 2012 military expenditure and proposed to #movethemoney to other more pressing internal policies.
Find out more about the changes between 2012 and 2013 military expenditures by reading what Reaching Critical Will has analysed from the newly released SIPRI database.
WILPF Sections suggetions
United Kingdom: a national plan for legal support to citizens with low-income wages would be needed.
WILPF’s UK Sections have been traditionally active in tackling government’s activity related to military spending and to respond with actions and campaign to raise awareness about the enormous waste of resources in this field.
They highlighted that on an overall $ 60.8bn, 3bn are spent on nuclear weapons.
There is plenty of wiser ways to spend this money. A suggestion is to reallocate these resources on a legal aid plan for people with low-income wages or currently helped by state welfare in order to for them to receive costless legal support. In particular, if these resources were reallocated, it would be possible to set a legal aid budget for the next 18.26 years.
New Zealand: wouldn’t $3 bn NZD be better invested in the community and children’s futures?
New Zealand spoke of supporting government recommendations to alleviate child poverty and this would subsequently have a roll-on affect in the community. Policies such as raising the minimum wage and increasing unemployment welfare would enable families to better provide for themselves. This, in turn, would deplete child poverty and domestic violence.
Spain: investment should prioritize free public education and daycare.
The same direction was embraced by the Spanish section who suggested to #movethemoney, 8.9 bn euros of it, into providing the resources for every child in Spain to attend public education and daycare when under the age of 6. Such a policy may allow some parents to return to work, and boost the economy.
Norway: let’s invest on happiness!
Norway similarly suggested moving the 40 bn NOK into tax refunds and therefore further boosting the economy. Along side this the Norwegian section proposed measure to increase national happiness. This idea emphasizes that instead of spending such amounts on militaries, these resources should be invested in to the community to pursue happiness and success.
Sweden: programmes for women in need are currently underfunded.
The Swedish section reported that 42 bn SEK was spent in military expenditure 2012 and proposed to reallocate this money to increase the assistance to women in need.
This would have a real impact on increasing security and safety for women, as well as helping to create a less stressful working environment for midwives, which would decrease the risks of childbirth related complications for both mothers and babies.
Currently, the Swedish government supports women’s shelters with ca. 42 million SEK annually.
The Swedish Association of Women’s Shelters and Young Women’s Empowerment Centers (SKR) reported in 2012 that they had to say no to 64 percent of the women who came to them for shelter. SKR were forced to say no to 1929 women and 603 children.
With more support, SKR and other organisations could do more preventive work, and ensure protection and shelter for all women and children that need it.
Recent numbers (2014) from the Swedish National Board of Health and Welfare show a lack of midwifes in more than 50 percent of all Swedish councils. According to Swedish Radio (2013), from 2010 to 2013 there were 8 cases of babies dying during delivery. Investigations show that the lack of personnel, the lack of hospital beds and a stressful working environment for midwives can have contributed to these tragic events. Experts say 4000 women suffer from severe birth injuries every year but experts that the Swedish national television (SVT) have talked to estimates that the number may be as high as 10000.
According to a campaign by Young Greens of Sweden, a 1 billion SEK investment would be enough to pay for 1 819 midwives.
Italy: Let’s start investing in our youth, the country need their skills in order to recover
In 2012, Italy spent $ 34 bn in military expenditure.
Currently almost 40% of young people are unemployed and the economy is collapsing. Government(s)’ response in the last few years has been to cut funding transversally to all areas of social security and welfare. It is surprisingly thou that while applying such rigorous austerity measures to some areas, Austerity’ did not apply to military spending.
WILPF Italia thus proposed to invert this trend and to start re-investing in people, rather than in armaments. In particular, they pointed out the need to address the unwholesome issue of young highly qualified workforce migration to foreign countries due to the lack of investments in research in Italy. On the long term, this human capital is a loss for the country which cannot be afford anymore.
With the investments made in the military sector in the year 2012 it would be possible to create jobs for 2.000 new researchers for 4 years (the average time for research programme). Plus, $8 bn would still be available to create a national plan to help young people to find job aw well as provide them the skills they might require to fit the marketplace.
All these investments in arms are underpinned by the belief that state’s security can be provided through the threat of violence. On the 4th Global Day on Military Spending, WILPF Sections are challenging this perspective on security and calling on governments to invest more money in human development.