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Press Release: Nobel Peace Prize — As Nuclear Tensions Rise, Feminist Antinuclear Campaigners Provide Alternatives Worth Listening to

8 December 2017

The Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom (WILPF) is one of the partner organisations of the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN) taking part in the Nobel Peace Prize ceremony this weekend. ICAN was awarded the Prize for highlighting the humanitarian impact of nuclear weapons and achieving the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons.

WILPF, an international non-governmental organisation present in 39 countries, is a member of the ICAN international steering group and played a leading role in campaigning for the Treaty, which was adopted by 122 governments in July 2017.

WILPF disarmament programme director and ICAN steering committee representative Ray Acheson was instrumental in generating support from governments and international organisations for the Treaty, which outlaws the last weapons of mass destruction and establishes a clear pathway to their total elimination.

According to Acheson, the feminist movement has a long and distinguished track record in opposing nuclear weapons. “Since 1945 and the first nuclear weapon tests in New Mexico, women in particular have mobilised against these weapons, blocking bases and leading campaigns for their elimination,” she says. “The awarding of the Nobel Peace Prize to ICAN is a testament to the power of the feminist movement and collective action.”

With rising tensions and threats of nuclear war between the United States and the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons is needed more than ever before. None of the world’s nine nuclear-armed states participated in negotiations of the Treaty, but the value of this instrument lies in the economic, legal, political, and social implications it will have on nuclear doctrines and programmes even if they don’t sign on.

“We hope the Nobel Peace Prize will raise awareness about the Treaty and spur more countries to sign and come on board,” says Acheson. “The odds were stacked against us in developing this instrument, but through our united efforts, we showed that change is possible and that the flame of social justice is burning brightly.”

Download the Press Release as PDF: Nobel Peace Prize—as nuclear tensions rise, feminist antinuclear campaigners provide alternatives worth listening to

For more information please contact:

  • Ray Acheson, WILPF Disarmament Programme Director, tel: +1 917 442 5214 / email: ray@reachingcriticalwill.org (Ray is in Oslo from 8–13 December)
  • Allison Pytlak, WILPF Disarmament Programme Manager, tel: +1 212 682 1265 / email: allison@reachingcriticalwill.org

Editors Notes:

  • WILPF is the world’s oldest women’s peace organisation. It was set up in 1915 to unite women worldwide who oppose oppression and exploitation.
  • Two previous leaders have received the Nobel Peace Prize for their peace efforts: Jane Addams in 1931 and Emily Greene Balche in 1946.

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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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Demilitarisation

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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