This guest post is contributed by Julie Ann Salthouse, Program Coordinator, 16 Days Campaign, Center for Women's Global Leadership, who coordinate the International 16 Days of Action.
You can connect with the international campaign here
Militarism is a source of violence against women -- in the domestic sphere of the home to civil war and international conflict. The 16 Days of Activism Against Gender Violence Campaign seeks to highlight the multiple roles of militarism in the perpetuation of violence through our 2011 Campaign theme, "From Peace in the Home to Peace in the World: Let's Challenge Militarism and End Violence Against Women!"
This theme emerged from a strategic conversation on militarism and violence against women among thirty feminist activists, academics, and experts, hosted by the Center for Women's Global Leadership, the home of the 16 Days Campaign. The participants identified five key areas of intersection between gender-based violence and militarism, which are priority areas for this year's theme: (i) political violence against women; (ii) the proliferation of small arms and their role in domestic violence; (iii) sexual violence during and post-conflict; (iv) the role of state actors as perpetrators of sexual and gender-based violence; and (v) the roles of women, peace, and human rights movements in challenging the links between militarism and violence against women. Readers are invited to learn more about these priority areas by reading our report.
While militarism is often discussed in terms of conflict situations, the 16 Days Campaign seeks to broaden our understanding of the many ways militarism influences our daily lives. Focusing on the ways in which "peace in the home" extends to "peace in the world," the Campaign encourages values of nonviolence and self-determination.
Since the start of the Campaign in 1991, over 3,700 organizations have participated in the 16 Days Campaign in over 164 countries. Today, organizations from Fiji to Iceland are organizing their own activities, including rallies, workshops, online petitions, radio programs, billboards, and more, with events pouring into our International Campaign Calendar. The Center invites activists to utilize the resources available in the Take Action Kit, which is available for download in several languages, in organizing 16 Days Campaign events.
At the Center, we are using the 16 Days Campaign's focus on militarism to inaugurate a new project, "What Does 'Security' Mean to You?"
Often when we hear about security it's in terms of State security, such as the military, police, private armies, or other "security sector" agents. Through our project, we are looking to question this definition, and consider what human security really means to all of us. Do armed forces, such as the use of force to solve conflict, really make us feel safer? Are there other areas in our lives that impact how we view our own security, particularly as women? We invite readers to join us in reconsidering "what is security" by submitting your thoughts/opinions on our project website. Your feedback will help guide our advocacy on state spending priorities and national budgets, and work toward developing a renewed understanding of what human security means for all of us.
For many, human security includes peace in our homes, a vision to which Women's Aid dedicates its work. Militarism often perpetuates domestic violence through the privileging of aggressive forms of masculinity, the proliferation of small arms in the home, and the larger cultural normalization of violence. With approximately one in five women in Ireland experiencing violence in her home, the Center for Women's Global Leadership joins Women's Aid - and individuals and organizations across the globe - in challenging militarism and ending violence against women, strengthening women's leadership to promote peace, and realizing human rights for all to achieve human security.