“The political climate around the world right now would be almost absurdly comical if it were not terrifying,” writes Abigail Ruane, Director of WILPF’s Women, Peace and Security programme, in her editorial to the month’s E-News from PeaceWomen. Read the entire newsletter on PeaceWomen’s website.
It’s hard to believe that it has been a year since WILPF mobilised 1,000 activists from 80 countries at our centennial peace summit around women’s power to stop war. It’s hard to believe it is also now half a year since the launch of the United Nations Security Council Resolution 1325 (UNSCR 1325) Global Study.Six months to a year on – where are we now, and how can we take action to move forward?
The political climate around the world right now would be almost absurdly comical if it were not terrifying. In the United States, the purportedly premier global superpower, the Republican party presidential nominee is now officially Donald Trump – who has openly supported torture, called immigrants “rapists,” and stated that women should be “punished” for having abortions. In the Philippines, the president-elect is Rodrigo Duterte, who has openly supported death squads and shoot-to-kill orders and in Europe, the refugee crisis is stoking anti-Muslim sentiment and the closing of borders.
Misogyny, xenophobia, and fascism are running rampant. Public affairs has started to feel like the world is a giant schoolyard with administrators who may have a zero-tolerance policy on bullying, but certainly are not taking any action to implement it. Meanwhile, bullies manipulate bystanders into stepping aside rather than standing in solidarity against violence.
The Lord of the Flies is not a world we can live in. And it is not the only way.
In Myanmar, activists are standing up to defend the indigenous Rohingya population despite sidelining of this issue by authorities. In Iraq, activists are supporting displaced and refugee populations, regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity, in solidarity for all. In Sweden, activists are facing down white supremacists and standing up for politics of inclusion and justice.
These actions – which may seem small in such global climate of fear – are key to stopping what peace activists have called “the iron lung of militarism” and creating alternatives to fear for peace and gender justice.
But non-violent action requires solidarity for impact. So, to move beyond a politics of fear, we must all find ways to act in solidarity to uphold the rights of those most marginalised in all ways we have at our disposal.
As we reflect on the three peace and security reviews at the UN conducted this year, including on UNSCR 1325 and the Women, Peace and Security agenda, solidarity requires taking action on gender issues as a perennially neglected priority. It means making and delivering on strong committments for gender equality and peace at next week’s World Humanitarian Summit. It means rejecting creeping militarism and demanding equal protection from forced conscription for men, women, and gender-queer people. It means addressing indigenous issues from a gender and disarmament perspective. And it means bringing an intersectional gender perspective that addresses a wide range of marginalised experiences in the WPS agenda more generally.
Six months on from the Global Study, the evidence base remains firm, but the rising politics of fear requires solidarity for change. Together, we can overcome.