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September 15, 2009

Women Deserve Political Power, Not Just Micro-Loans

Nicholas Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn provided the cover story for a recent NY Times Magazine issue. The article is titled "Why Women's Rights Are the Cause of Our Time."

To be honest, I found it frustrating to read about women's burgeoning economic prospects with scant contemplation of our political and social rights.

In a letter to the editor, WILPF member Robin Lloyd pointed out that women's rights are guaranteed under international law: the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW) and, UN Security Council Resolution 1325.

Yet, no one is crying out for the implementation of these laws. In October, 2008, the UN Working Group on Women, Peace & Security addressed the Security Council and reminded them of the following statistics: Since 2000, women averaged 7% of negotiators in five major UN peace processes. Fewer than 3% of the signatories in 14 peace talks were women. Read the statement in its entirety. (pdf)

At what point will the mainstream columnists start demanding the implementation of UN Security Council Resolution 1325 and 1820? At what point will they recognize that not including women in conflict resolution is a major cause of instability in Iraq and Afghanistan? It's no shock that capitalism works or that most women will spend more money on family needs than booze. What is frustrating is people focusing solely on economic empowerment and staying absolutely silent on the need for women's equal involvement in the political sphere.

The magazine also made me wonder about Western prescriptions for development vs. home-grown solutions.

Should we be developing a universal blueprint for increasing women's involvement in conflict resolution, politics in general, and economics? Should we be spending more time learning from the women on the ground in conflict areas / developing countries? What's the best way to do both (push for universal human rights / implementation of UN resolutions and learn from / support women on the ground?)

I look forward to developing answers to these questions with my sister WILPFers. We've got sections around the world. Our founding mothers were determined to bring women's voices into the halls of power. And we'll continue to do so. Want to help? Donate to WILPF today.

Want to get even more involved? Become a WILPF member (all genders invited).

Posted by cj at 9:31 PM | Comments (0)

September 6, 2009

Israeli Settlement Expansion Creates Turmoil, not Peace

On Friday, the LA Times reported that the Israeli government decided to "slow down" rather than halt the expansion of Israeli settlements in the West Bank and East Jerusalem. This surprised the Obama administration, which has called for a settlement freeze. Palestinians believe this proves the Israeli government has no interest in peace negotiations.

This news breaks my heart.

Former President Jimmy Carter wrote an op-ed in today's Washington Post highlighting the destructive nature of Israeli settlement expansion and the glimmer of hope provided by cross-border partnerships.

As a peace activist, I find it difficult to maintain hope for peace in the Middle East. The military and economic power of the Israeli government has been used for the last 61 years to occupy and subjugate Palestine, with the support of the US government. As a Jew, I am torn between my deep love of my religious heritage and ethnicity, and the belligerent political state created in my name.

As a practicing Jew, the actions of the Israeli government often feel other-worldly to me. I cannot understand how a tradition that has created some of the strongest social justice leaders throughout time has also created such belligerence. We've been persecuted throughout history, and we tend to use that persecution as a coat of invulnerability.

I believe East Jerusalem, the West Bank, and Gaza should be a sovereign country and that Israelis have no right to that land. I believe the Israeli government has the upper hand in this conflict and that Israel chooses to fight its neighbors rather than make peace.

The justification I hear most often for Israel not coming to the peace table is that Palestinians want to wipe Israel off the face of the map, so how can you negotiate with people who don't share a common world view? I cannot accept this premise: yes, some Palestinians do not want to recognize a Jewish political state; but if Israelis decided to recognize the legitimacy of the Palestinian state, chose to allow Palestinians the right of self-determination (including full citizenship for Palestinian Israelis), and chose to create economic partnership with their neighbors rather than security walls, then the militants would have less power on both sides of the conflict.

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Posted by cj at 5:30 AM | Comments (0)