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The Mass Media

The Mass Media

Women Need Stronger Role In Global Peace Efforts

May 24 is International Women’s Day for Peace and Disarmament. As a woman active on these issues for the last 20 years, I firmly believe in the power of women to build a different, more secure world.

We are generally viewed as “idealists” who “of course” work for a peaceful ideal, compared to the “realist” men who dominate the military and power politics of the world. In the lexicon of the realist, if you want peace, you must prepare for war.

It is this mentality that must change. Women must play a more significant role if we are to make sustained progress toward disarmament and real peace. Right now, the challenges facing the global community are greater than at any moment since the end of the Cold War.

We cannot allow the campaign against terrorism to camouflage the dangerous increase in militarism around the world. We cannot allow ourselves to be labeled and marginalized as “idealists” for questioning this militarism, which costs the American public almost $1 billion a day.

When I question militarism, I do not disparage the military personnel who put their lives on the line when they are commanded to do so. I do question, however, those who formulate a reckless policy.

We need more women to have meaningful involvement in these issues if we want to bring about real change. We must work harder to stop the glorification of violence. We must work harder to make people understand the tremendous courage shown by people working for peace.

Earlier this month, the military government of Burma finally released Nobel Peace Prize winner Daw Aung Sun Suu Kyi from house arrest. Suu Kyi and her people had their democratic rights and their freedom taken away from them by the military, but her response was not to take up a gun, nor to organize a countercoup. She stood up to the ruthless military by refusing to stop demanding freedom and democracy for her people.

Suu Kyi symbolizes the tremendous power and courage of a nonviolent response to the violent usurpation of the freedom of a people. She is an example of the right and responsibility of the individual to take action to create the world she wants for her people – and for herself.

I am fortunate that my work with the International Campaign to Ban Landmines has been tremendously successful. And I choose to continue to work to have my voice – and that of Women everywhere – heard in the belief that real and lasting change for peace and disarmament will be near to impossible as long as women, who make up more than half the world’s population, are excluded from meaningful participation in peace building.

I believe that you get the world you prepare for. Let’s prepare for peace.

By Jody Williams


Jody Williams shared the 1997 Nobel Peace Prize with the International Campaign to Ban Landmines (www.icbl.org).