Women Creating Genuine Security in Dangerous Times

International Women’s Network meeting on Militarism, Gender Justice and Peace
Okinawa, June 22-27, 2017

Women for Genuine Security (WGS) is a US-based coalition that works to promote a world of genuine security based on justice and respect for others across national boundaries, a world free of militarism, violence, and all forms of sexual exploitation. We began in 1996 when women from Okinawa (Japan) appealed to us as women living in the United States to take responsibility and speak up about the impacts of the US military in other countries.

We are part of the International Women’s Network Against Militarism, a network of individuals and organizations from Hawai’i, Guam, Japan, Okinawa, Philippines, Puerto Rico, South Korea, and continental United States who are organizing against the harmful effects of US bases and high military spending in all our communities. The Network started in 1997 when 40 women activists, policy-makers, teachers and students gathered in Okinawa to share information and experiences.

Women in these diverse locations are working on related issues – military violence against women/trafficking, health effects of environmental contamination caused by preparations for war, indigenous rights, and opposing the construction of new bases. In the US, police violence and the militarization of the southern border have intensified. Low-income communities face aggressive military recruiting and inadequate services due to inflated military spending at the expense of socially useful programs.

In all our countries, militarism is preventing people’s ability to live in sustainable ways. Alongside our critiques, we work on creating sustainable communities and putting forth visions of genuine security and alternatives ways to live.

Over the years WGS activities include:
Educational forums on college campuses and in community settings;
Organizing sign-on letters and solidarity statements on behalf of activists in Guam, Okinawa, and Jeju Island (South Korea)
Publications: articles in Foreign Policy in Focus, an on-line newsletter, (Re)Collections (2008-2010), informational materials, and a Peace Activist Dictionary in English, Japanese, Korean, Pilipino and Spanish;
Hosting peace activists from Guam, Okinawa, Philippines, and South Korea
Organizing the 7th International Network meeting (2007) in San Francisco;
Producing a documentary, Living Along the Fenceline (2012), in five languages, featuring seven grassroots women leaders from Okinawa to Puerto Rico, who challenge the pattern of US military contamination, prostitution, and the desecration of land and culture with projects devoted to peace and genuine security;
Working with a range of organizations including Bay Area New Priorities Campaign, Bay Area Stop Pacific Pivot Campaign, Bayan USA, Berkeley Peace and Justice Commission, Comfort Women Justice Coalition, Korea Peace Institute, Vets for Peace-SF, PANA Institute, Women of Color Resource Center, and Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom-SF;
Supporting Berkeley City Council in passing a resolution in support of Okinawans protesting a new US Marines base in Henoko Bay (2015). Following the Berkeley action, the City of Cambridge also passed a similar resolution; the City of Seattle is considering one;
Participating in the Hague Appeal for Peace (1999), Military Toxics Conference, Washington, DC (1999), Women’s Global Strategies for the 21st Century Gathering, Bronxville, NY (2005), US National Organizing Conference on Military Bases, Washington, DC (2009), US Social Forum (Detroit 2010; San Jose 2015), and Moana Nui (Honolulu 2011; Berkeley 2013).

In June 2017 the International Women’s Network is meeting again in Okinawa to celebrate and reflect on our 20 years of activism and to build resistance and power together. For US-based women in WGS, this meeting is particularly important because of the increased fear and anxiety created by the Trump Administration and threats of increasing militarization across the Pacific. WGS hopes to take a strong delegation from the United States to:
Share our work in this country and what’s happening in movements for women’s rights, immigrant rights, environmental justice, racial justice and peace;
Strengthen relationships across country groups and regions to deepen transnational movement building;
Learn from women who have been facing political constraints that we now face; and
Help to produce a 20th anniversary book to document the Network’s accomplishments, with an emphasis on lessons learned and what’s instructive for new movements at this political moment.

Learning from each other’s visions and resistance across the Asia-Pacific region, will help step up our work in these dangerous times.

Timeline of Network meetings.

8th International Meeting Puerto Rico & Vieques Feb. 19-24, 2012
Info: http://iwnam.org/what-we-do/international-meetings/2012-meeting-forging-nets-for-demilitarization-and-genuine-security-puerto-rico-vieques/

7th International Meeting Guahan Sept. 14 – 19, 2009
Info: http://iwnam.org/what-we-do/international-meetings/2009-meetings-chinemma-ninamaolek-yan-inarespetu-para-direchon-taotao-resistance-resilience-and-respect-for-human-rights/

6th International Meeting San Francisco Bay Area, USA Sept. 11 – 15, 2007
Info: http://iwnam.org/what-we-do/international-meetings/2007-meeting-women-resisting-militarism-and-creating-a-culture-of-life-san-francisco-bay-area/

5th International Meeting Manila, Philippines Nov. 22 – 27, 2004
Info: http://iwnam.org/what-we-do/international-meetings/2004-meeting-international-meeting-on-human-security-and-development-manila-philippines/

4th International Meeting Seoul, South Korea August 15-20, 2002
Info: http://iwnam.org/what-we-do/international-meetings/2002-meeting-struggling-for-peace-in-my-life-in-all-our-lives-militarism-and-human-rights-for-women-seoul-and-anseong-south-korea/

3rd International Okinawa, Japan June 22-25, 2000
Info: http://iwnam.org/what-we-do/international-meetings/2000-meeting-international-womens-summit-to-redefine-security-okinawa-japan/

2nd International Meeting Washington D.C., USA Oct 9-13, 1998
Info: http://iwnam.org/what-we-do/international-meetings/1998-meeting-redefining-security-for-women-and-children-washington-dc/

1st International Meeting Okinawa, Japan May 1 – 4, 1997
Info: http://iwnam.org/what-we-do/international-meetings/past-meetings-women-and-children-militarism-and-human-rights-okinawa-japan-may-1-4-1997/

For information on Living Along the Fenceline see: http://www.twn.org/catalog/pages/cpage.aspx?rec=1437&card=price
For personal copies contact info@genuinesecurity.org