A Community Dialogue: Speakout Against War and for the Right to Welfare
Demanding money for mothers everywhere, not for war, a multi-racial group of women and men that was remarkable for the breadth of the communities represented, gathered at the Crossroads Women's Center in Los Angeles on December 7 for "A Community Dialogue: Speakout Against War and For the Right to Welfare."
The Dialogue, which was coordinated by the Every Mother is a Working Mother Network and the Global Women's Strike Planning Group/LA, brought together grassroots women who are campaigning for welfare as an entitlement for our caring work with other antiwar and peace and justice activists, to press for the military budget to be used not for weapons and war but instead used for welfare and other resources to go to those who are caregivers of people and the planet.
Participants in the speakout included mothers and grandmothers; welfare recipients; the adult children of welfare recipients; immigrants from Vietnam, China, Latin America, and the Caribbean; Black women, Latinas, and Asian women; lesbian women; women with disabilities; women with waged jobs; and women and men from the antiwar, community organizing and labor movements.
During the speakout, participants spelled out, from personal experience, how our unwaged care giving work (which is valued at $11 trillion a year worldwide) establishes our claim to welfare and to the $900 billion global military budget; how, since every penny that goes to welfare mothers is money that is not going to the military, to demand welfare is to demand a total change of priorities; and how, as the U.S. military, which has an Army which is now 40% Black and a Marine Corps that is 60% Latino which is being trained to kill people of color and others around the world, to demand welfare is to challenge both racism and genocide.
The Community Dialogue also emphasized the connection between the mother-led movement for welfare and other money for caring work in the United States and grassroots women's movements around the world, particularly in Africa, where women are fighting for survival as 34 million people face the threat of starvation, and in Venezuela, where the 80 % of the population which is poor, beginning with women and people of color, are defending their democratic government against the threat of another U.S.-supported coup by the affluent white minority.
The Community Dialogue concluded with commitments to organize to get State hearings and welfare-to-work exemptions for people who are being denied benefits; to circulate the newly-launched global antiwar petition, "Invest in Caring Not Killing" (which can be found at: http://womenstrike8m.server101.com/English/InvestInCaringPet.htm
); and to begin working together to build the March 8, 2003, Global Women's Strike (information at: http://womenstrike8m.server101.com/
), which is grassroots women's response to globalization and militarization.