“A Feminist Vision of Genuine Security
and Culture of Life”
International Women’s Network
10th Meeting Philippines, May 25-28, 2023
In the six years since our last international meeting in Okinawa in June 22-26, 2017, the world has become more militarized and more insecure. We see more clearly than ever that we are living in a world where militarism and globalized military systems support the accumulation of wealth and power in the hands of a few, predominantly in the Global North and elites in the Global South, at the expense of the vast majority of the world’s people and the natural environment. Indeed, we are embedded in a culture of killing, profit-making, domination, and control of people and the planet at any cost.
These factors are not historical artifacts, but have been generated by European, US, and Japanese colonization, as well as the so-called Cold War. The resurgence of Right Wing and fascist governments, the rise of religious fundamentalisms, and unbridled accumulation of profit–especially from life-supporting resources, such as water and Coronavirus vaccines, and from life-destroying weapons of war and militarism–have created profound insecurities all over the world. As part of this general condition, the US President and government officials, and national leaders in all our countries, insist on targeting China as the biggest global threat. In addition, China and North Korea are defined as the greatest threat in the Northeast Asia region.
Our governments have used these alleged “threats” to justify military responses including increased military budgets in all our countries and developing “First Strike” nuclear capabilities in the region. In this scenario and, in others such as the “War on Terror,” the political, economic, military, and ideological dominance of the United States is unequivocal. Wars and armed conflicts also are extremely profitable. Therefore, the governments and leaders who support the US position do so–even if they are flattered, coerced, blackmailed, coaxed, or cajoled into compliance–to fill their own pockets and otherwise protect the economic and political interests of the elites in their locations. All are active participants in the culture of killing.
We reject all moves to gain popular support for increasing militarization and war in the Asia Pacific region and beyond. We reject the characterization of a particular people or nation as The Enemy, often based on stereotypes and fear, to justify military action. Finally, we reject all double standards regarding human rights violations, military aggression, and violations of sovereignty. All states and state actors must be held fully accountable for such violations.
As a feminist Network, we have witnessed and documented repeatedly the fact that women and girls bear the heaviest burdens of militarism, military bases and operations, armed conflicts, and wars, with the burden distributed unevenly based on race, ethnicity, class, age, gender identity, sexual orientation, religion, nationality and citizenship status, and geography. Similar documentation by feminists beyond our region is evidence that this burden on women and girls is a global phenomenon.
We recognize that the root cause of these conflicts is the struggle over power, control, and ownership of natural and human resources for profit. These battles for power continue to shape and to dictate relationships between, among, and within countries and peoples, and life on earth as we know it. These battles have sped up the destruction of the natural world and have created devastation that could have been prevented–such as the massive destruction of Guåhan (Guam) by Super Typhoon Mawar we witnessed as we were meeting.
Based on our experiences and understandings of militarism, armed conflicts, and wars, we reject the notion of “national security” promoted by all our governments and the mainstream media. Instead, we insist on our feminist vision of genuine security and culture of life that requires the following guarantees: ensuring the environment can sustain life; meeting people’s basic needs and livelihoods; respecting human dignity; assuring people’s sovereignty; preventing avoidable harm; and organizing society so all will thrive.
We are students, parents, changemakers, educators, and researchers for feminist genuine security. We have created a translocal network that connects our specific geographic locations across national borders to address our concerns and promote our values and commitments. We work translocally to revitalize our cultures that value the lives and dignity of all species and the natural environment. We envisage the following ways to realize our vision of transforming the prevailing culture of killing into a culture of life.
1. Promoting our cultures of living to ensure the environment can sustain life and respect human dignity.
All living beings have the potential to thrive and live with dignity. This potential is the source of survival and sustainability on our planet.
The culture of killing consistently and systematically exploits and harms all people and the natural world. The most severely affected are the most vulnerable, including women, children, Indigenous peoples, LGBTIQ+ people, especially those who are poor, and all animal and plant life.
A culture of living appreciates, respects, and engages different perspectives, abilities, and so on, as powerful ways to create a genuinely secure and sustainable future. We are interdependent; therefore, we can imagine possibilities, generate, and share resources, inspire one another, and learn together.
Our feminist ethics of care rooted in love will help guide us to be dependable stewards of the air, lands, and waters. This love will ensure that we birth, nurture, and grow all forms of life, including ourselves. This love will be the foundation to prevent avoidable harm.
2. Creating feminist societal systems to meet people’s basic needs and livelihoods, prevent avoidable harm, and organize society so all will thrive.
Everyone needs clean water, affordable housing, access to food, health care, and education to be assured survival and well-being. Meeting these basic needs should be recognized as the fundamental form of security and should be the priority of security policies of all countries. To do this, we must create feminist societal systems that affirm this principle. The economy must be reorganized to provide for people’s basic needs rather than profit-making. Government budgets—in other words, taxpayers’ money—must be redirected from the military, police, and prisons and from subsidies to corporations and private interests to ensure the provision of all human needs.
To achieve a world that respects the wellbeing of all life, we must design societal institutions and policies embedded in Indigenous and feminist principles of collectivism, interdependence, and relationships with the natural world.
3. Engaging, educating, and nurturing people, organizations, and movements to understand and use the idea of genuine security to ensure peoples’ sovereignty and self-determination.
We seek to enact diplomacy, individually and collectively, person to person, community to community, location to location. We will connect through translocal and transnational movements, rather than relying on state-based diplomacy that, at best, only protects the interests of national elites. We will resolve conflicts and disagreements using agreed-upon feminist principles and our vision. We will work and organize to end militarization and militarism through our connections: building friendly, sturdy, unshakeable relationships and complementing each other’s strengths across our movements.
As we move toward our feminist vision of genuine security and culture of life, we demand that our governments address both past and current practices that have, and do destroy life in all our locations, which we have identified collectively as members of the International Women’s Network Against Militarism.
As a Network and as representatives from the countries below, we demand the following changes specific to our local contexts:
● End the Korean War and establish a peace agreement. In addition, the US must admit liability and apologize for the formal role the US Forces in Korea played in the creation of the “comfort women” system during the Korean War era, according to the final ruling of the Korean Supreme Court on the lawsuit brought on behalf of women affected.
● Cancel the build-up of US-Japan allied forces and abolish US bases in Okinawa, Korea, Guåhan, Hawai’i, and the Philippines. Instead, enhance diplomatic relations among communities and municipalities.
● Demilitarize, decontaminate, and decolonize the Mariåna archipelago and return all ancestral lands, abolish militarism and carceral governance, and embody a culture of peace and creativity.
● Uphold Indigenous sovereignty, promote the decolonization of non-self-governing territories, and respect the right of all peoples to self-determination.
● Hold the US accountable for military contamination of water in Red Hill/Kapūkakī and prohibit construction of any new military facilities and renewal of leases in Hawai‘i.
● Defund the entire US military apparatus including the armed forces, police, border patrols, prisons, and immigration detention centers and use the money to fund social needs. Retrain those who currently work in these agencies for jobs that support genuine security.
Further, we demand the following changes that impact the Asia and Pacific Island region as a whole:
● The Japanese government must take full responsibility for its colonial rule and contribute to the denuclearization of Northeast Asia by ratifying the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons.
● The US must change its adversarial position regarding China as stated in the National Security Strategy 2022 to one of diplomacy and partnership in seeking shared solutions to the global climate crisis.
● The US military must be held accountable for tolerance and tacit support of violence and sexual crimes against women and girls and human trafficking of men, women, and children.
● UN Women defines the crime of femicide as the intentional killing of women and girls. We demand justice for all victims of femicide by US military servicemen including women in combat zones, those who live and work near military bases, the wives and girlfriends of US military men, and women enlisted in the US military.
We call on our political leaders and other decision-makers to address our demands. At the same time, we affirm our feminist vision of genuine security and will work together to end colonization and militarization as a path towards a culture of life. We remain steadfast in our commitment to each other and women around the world to a just and sustainable world. We invite others to join our call for feminist vision of genuine security and culture of life.