Women Launch Campaign to End Iraq War
On Thursday, January 5, women from around the world—from the US to Iraq to Britain to Japan—launched a campaign aimed at ending the Iraq war and all attacks on Iraqi civilians in 2006. The new campaign, Women Say No to War, plans to gather some 100,000 signatures by March 8, International Women’s Day, when US and Iraqi women will deliver the signatures to leaders in Washington, DC and women around the world will deliver them to US embassies. So far, more than 15,000 women have signed on in support at http://www.womensaynotowar.org
“We’re unleashing a global chorus of women’s voices shouting ‘Enough!,’” said Medea Benjamin, co-founder of the group CODEPINK: Women for Peace, which initiated the Women Say No to War campaign. She is also a founding director at the human rights organization Global Exchange.
Among the 200 high-profile women who endorsed the call are Gold Star mothers Cindy Sheehan of the US and Rose Gentle of Scotland; Actors/Performers Susan Sarandon, Eve Ensler, and Margaret Cho; Authors Alice Walker, Anne Lamott, Maxine Hong Kingston and Barbara Ehrenreich; and Congresswomen Barbara Lee, Cynthia McKinney and Lynn Woolsey of the US, Libby Davies of Canada, and Caroline Lucas of the UK. Iraqi women endorsers include Yanar Mohammed of the Organization of Women’s Freedom in Iraq and Hana Ibrahim of Iraqi Women’s Will.
“Iraqi women are devastated now, and it will take us decades of struggle to regain a peaceful and civilized life,” said Yanar Mohammed. “The US occupation has planted seeds of ethno-sectarian division, preparing Iraq for a civil war, and has blessed religious supremacy over and against human and women’s rights.”
The majority of people in the US, the UK, and around the world oppose the Iraq war, which has thus far cost the lives of tens of thousands of Iraqis (estimates range from 27,814 to 100,000); 2,210 US troops; 98 UK troops; and hundreds of humanitarian workers. Eighty-two percent of Iraqis have also declared that they are “strongly opposed” to the presence of coalition troops in their country. As the three-year anniversary of the invasion of Iraq approaches, the country is still wracked by violence, Iraqi civilians are suffering from a lack of basic services, including electricity and clean water, and women’s rights are under attack.
A recent poll in the US showed that there is a gender gap on American attitudes toward US troops withdrawal from Iraq. According to the most recent Gallup poll on Iraq, 62% of all women polled said the U.S. troops should be brought home from Iraq before December 2006, compared to 53 percent of men: a significant nine-point difference.
“Women understand that keeping the U.S. troops in Iraq is only perpetuating the cycle of violence there and resulting in more casualties for Iraqi civilians and US troops. Three years is enough time to show that war isn’t working – it’s time to try another approach,” Benjamin said.
The Women Say No to War Campaign urges a shift in strategy in Iraq, from a military model to a conflict resolution model. It calls for a withdrawal of all foreign troops and foreign fighters from Iraq, for the full representation of women in the peacemaking process, and for a commitment to women's full equality in the post-war Iraq.
The call reads in part, “We, the women of the United States, Iraq and women worldwide, have had enough of the senseless war in Iraq and the cruel attacks on civilians around the world. We've buried too many of our loved ones. We've seen too many lives crippled forever by physical and mental wounds. We've watched in horror as our precious resources are poured into war while our families' basic needs of food, shelter, education and healthcare go unmet. …
“This is not the world we want for ourselves or for our children. With fire in our bellies and love in our hearts, we women are rising up - across borders - to unite and demand an end to the bloodshed and the destruction.”
Cindy Sheehan, whose son Casey was killed fighting in Iraq, said, “The pain that this war has caused for people all over the world is unimaginable. I’ve met women from so many different countries who are ready to stand together to make our leaders end this madness, and it doesn’t matter that we speak different languages – our hearts understand the pain and needless loss that have been caused by this war.”
To read the full text of the call and view a list of the initial signatories, see http://www.womensaynotowar.org