A peace conference is not a peace conference without a public manifestation, letting the rest of the world hear our voices and see us united.

And so, exactly halfway through the WILPF 2015 Conference: Women’s Power to Stop War, participants gathered outside the World Forum in The Hague, the Netherlands, to speak out against excessive military spending.

Uniting the Women’s Power to Stop War movement starting in The Hague

A girl dancing to Penny Stone’s uplifting music.public manifestation 3

Intermittent cheers of “Sí se puede! Sí se puede! Sí se puede!”

Friends, old and new, holding hands in a circle that grew and grew and grew.

All this and more could be seen at today’s public manifestation outside the World Forum in The Hague, the Netherlands, where we decided to demonstrate that we get what we pay for!

Why we moved the money

Reaching Critical Will Programme Director, Ray Acheson, introduced the idea behind the demonstration.

Conference participants moved a big pile of symbolic money that is spent on the military and the maintenance of violence to spending on health, education and the promotion of human rights.

This is to show world leaders that we get what we pay for, whether that is more militarisation or more social spending.

WILPF’s disarmament programme, Reaching Critical Will, highlights the impacts of social versus military spending in their You Get What You Pay For publication and advocacy efforts.

How we moved the money

public manifestation 2We used everything we could, from our hands to shovels and especially teamwork!

“It’s an effective way to show that it is possible to move the money. We now have an empty military table and very big piles of money for education, healthcare and human rights left over,” said participant Lina Hjartstrom.

“We want to have peace and development, and this is how to do it,” said participant Anna-Therese McGivern.

“It’s hard to choose which aspect of social spending to move the money to because they are so interlinked. I went for education because I believe this is the root to stimulating healthcare and human rights.  

Penny Stone on peace, music, and reducing burnout

Nonviolent peace activist and singer Penny Stone inspired the crowd with her music, which she has shared across the world to help other activists recharge and avoid burnout.public manifestation 1

We had the chance to speak with her before the crowds came, and she shared her stories of protesting nuclear weapons in Scotland, her home country.

She told us of several successful blockades and rallies which have taken place in the last few years, of the growth in political engagement among people, and of the importance of taking the money out of the war machine.

Watch the video and call on your government to reallocate military spending now!