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Written Statement by the Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom for the 58th Commission on the Status of Women (March 2014)

Militarization, and cultures of militarism, are double-edged swords against peace: with one hand, they exacerbate violence; with the other, they raid the coffers of peace.

The Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom (WILPF) calls for a post 2015 development agenda that invests in gender equality and peace for sustainable development rather than current investments in degenerative development, inequality and violence. It is vital that we change our course to adopt an integrated approach to security that invests in equality, sustainable development and peace rather than inequality, militarism, and war. Therefore, the agenda must be deeply as well as widely inclusive of disarmament, human rights, and the women-peace-security (WPS).

WILPF members around the world call on the Commission and international community to take the following actions:
• Reduce military spending and arms production towards total and universal disarmament
• Redirect resources from military spending to achieve human security, environment sustainability, and economic justice; and
• Promote women’s full and equal participation and rights in all relevant processes.

Total and universal disarmament

Weapons are tools of war, which is used to create a culture of fear and violence. Since our founding in 1915, WILPF has called for total and universal disarmament, in particular through international agreements.

Conventional weapons, including small arms and light weapons, are used to wreak havoc and take lives. High-tech and emerging weapons technologies such as nuclear weapon and drone are used as political tools to manipulate international relations, destabilize our planet and undermine human rights. Environmental degradation and its incapacitating effect on sustainability and community health is similarly caused and exacerbated by conflict, the military industrial complex, arms production and consumption and moreover by the dangerous use and lasting effects of depleted uranium, the remnants of war and unsustainable mining.

Reduction of military spending and arms production

Military spending and militarism also raid financing and opportunities for women’s human rights, development, and peace.

In 2011, global military spending was more than US$1.7 trillion. This amount is equivalent to over 24 years of the foreign aid required to reach the Millennium Development Goals by 2015. It is also equivalent to 700 years of the United Nation’s regular budget, or to 2,928 years of UN Women.

Many countries spend money on weapons and war, or clean-up from war, while struggling to meet their objectives on socio-economic development, or their obligations to equal human rights. The reduction of weapons production and expenditure on military personnel and equipment would help free up resources for human rights based development, and provide a foundation for long term sustainable peace.

Women’s participation

Rather than investing in militarism and arms, we call on states to invest in women’s full and equal participation and rights as a foundation for peace. We call on member states to take concrete action and financing to uphold their obligations to respect, protect, and fulfil women’s equal human rights, progressively and without retrogression.

Women have paid the cost of militarization and arms proliferation for too long—economically and physically—and they must be included in developing relevant solutions. Disarmament, and a redirection of resources from military spending to gender equitable socioeconomic development, will be crucial in securing that adequate resources are directed towards realizing women’s rights to equal participation and ensuring inclusive development and peace for all.

There can be no development without disarmament and women’s full and equal human rights.
WILPF reaffirms our commitment to the realization of sustainable peace. We ask governments to strengthen commitments to an integrated approach that promotes people over profit and human over military security. Human security, not just military security must be the bottom line. In doing so, we can turn our swords to ploughshares and change course from investing in inequality, degenerative development and violence to equality, sustainable development and


Day two – 16 Days of Activism against gender based violence

Day 2 of 16 Days of Activism Against Gender Violence Campaign!

This year WILPF made history! WILPF’s Reaching Critical Will successfully led a campaign to include a provision on gender-based violence in the newly adopted Arms Trade Treaty. Thank you to the huge engagement from WILPF Sections.

For the first time ever, a treaty recognises the established relationship between gender-based violence and the international arms trade.

Next step: working hard to make sure States implement this provision!

Late notice of event today: Commemorating women who have served or are serving in areas of conflict

National Council of Women of Australia invites you to attend our annual wreath laying ceremony

Australian War Memorial
TODAY *2pm, Friday 4 October 2013 *(please arrive and assemble by 1.50pm, some seating will be provided) –
Our service includes the following words: “We reflect and give thanks for all those women, in all parts of the world, who have served or are serving in areas of conflicts. To those who have waited or are waiting at home – caring, sharing and working – to maintain the fabric of the Australian society we also give thanks and reflect on their contribution to our nation’s well being. To those who continue to care for those who have returned from conflicts, past & present, we are grateful and give thanks. To those who are working, around the world, to achieve peaceful solutions in areas of conflict or potential conflict – we trust that women are being consulted and included in those solutions.” –
Attendees invited into Hall of Memory –
Laying of Wreath –
Laying of Poppies –
Last Post –
Minute Silence –
Rouse –
Ceremony concludes
After the ceremony, please join us for afternoon tea (own expense) at The Terrace, adjacent to the Main Building. Julie Morris
National Council of Women of Australia


The funeral of Hellen Cooke, a long time and active WILPF member, is taking place today in Melbourne.


Hellen was admired and loved by many in WILFP, by many in Victorian women’s groups, and also through her work with many other pro-peace, pro-women non Government organisations where she was active.

Here are some of the tributes to her work and impact in Australia. Further commentary is warmy encouraged. If you would like to add to this list please do so through the comments page.

Also if you live in Canberra and knew Hellen, stay tuned for information about a special memorial service for her later this month.


 From International Women’s Development Australia (IWDA)

Australian feminist and peace activist Hellen Cooke unexpectedly passed away on July 26th. In this article, IWDA Research, Policy & Advocacy Advisor Jo Crawford and IWDA Executive Director Joanna Hayter reflect on Hellen’s life and work.

It is hard to remember with certainty when we first met Hellen Cooke. Maybe it was through our involvement in the peace and anti-nuclear movement in the early 1980s. Hellen just seems to have always been there, in many overlapping circles linked to disarmament, peace, the women’s movement, and women, peace and security work. With a wry smile, a distinctive, infectious laugh and enormous energy, Hellen was a constant constructive critic. She was always there, working to ensure that a feminist voice was heard on issues of peace and security. It seems almost impossible to believe that she won’t be there at the next meeting of civil society organisations working to ensure that Australia’s two-year term on the UN Security Council sees real progress on the women, peace and security agenda.

Some months ago, IWDA decided to display some of its fabulous collection of feminist posters around our Melbourne office. We are particularly proud of our feminist bathroom, which transformed a drab functional space into a place of daily inspiration—a reminder of the rich history and legacy on which we build, of what women’s movements have achieved, and how much is still to be done. Three of the posters in our collection, developed for the 80th Anniversary of the Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom (WILPF), feature poetry by Hellen Cooke, with art work and design by her daughters Karen and Jo Cooke. In celebration of Hellen’s life and contribution, we share the posters and their powerful messages—about feminism and about Hellen.


Those of us working for women’s rights and gender equality stand on the shoulders of giants, and gain strength and momentum from the knowledge and perspective this brings. Hellen Cooke was one of those giants.

IWDA’s thoughts are with Hellen’s daughters Kate, Alison, Jo and her son Owen and their partners and children, and the WILPF family, which has lost one of its great contributors.

From Georgie and Thalia Mornington

I met Hellen at a palm Sunday peace walk some years ago and have met up regularly at similar events over the years, the last being at the human rights film screening at Rosebud in June.

She was such a vibrant woman with such a passion and energy for peace work. We were blessed to have known her.

Sympathy and blessings to all her family

From Geraldine Robertson

I am sorry to tell you that our wonderful founding member of Women’s Web, Hellen Cooke, unexpectedly died the day before yesterday. I am sure I can say that our thoughts are with her family and friends coping with the shock of this premature death.

It seemed nothing could stop Hellen. I last spoke to her the week before last when she told me she was still encouraging women to sign the Centre for the Leadership for Women’s open letter to Julia Gillard. She had signed it although “Have to say there are achievements I dislike – but I signed it on the grounds that a male would have made the same dislikes.” ….

Lyn [Lane] from Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom said that as recently as last Thursday she received an email from Hellen enclosing “some lines for a letter objecting to war games – particularly to bombing the reef. Let me know if WILPF will use them. If not I will do a personal letter.” Lyn referred to “her audacity and indefatigable efforts for peace and justice.”

Joan from Women in Black (who sent us this sad news) remembered ” She was always there, with her little smile and huge heart.” And these are just three organisations that will never be the same. I can’t imagine life without Hellen keeping me to my best. As for her encouragement, the photo attached (Hellen on the right) was taken when we were having coffee before our Prejudice and Reason some Australian Women’s responses to war book launch in April.

Who but Hellen would come with signs to a book launch?

Vale dearest Hellen, you will be greatly missed.

From Chris Henderson (Photos thanks to Chris)

Brilliant, beloved, indefatigable, witty and outspoken feminist, peace activist and mentor who died today [30 July 2013]. As WILPF member Lyn Lane says, WILPF Australia has lost a true champion. Fare thee well, WILPF sister. And thank you for so much.


Service to Honour the life of Bobi Meyer

It is with great sadness that I post this notice about the passing of Bobi Meyer who I was honoured to get to know and work with in the Canberra Peace Movement.

19 September 1938 19 April 2013

Dearly loved mother of Bob, Carl,
Jay, Vandy, Dorothy, Billy, Maria and Gisela.
Grandmother and great-grandmother.
Married Professor Bob Meyer.

Peace Activist, Linguist and Campaigner for Social Justice.
Member of WILPF.

Do not go where the path may lead,
go instead where there is no path
and leave a trail.
Ralph Waldo Emerson

A Service will be held to honour Bobi on Friday 26 April 2013, commencing at 10 am at
Quakers Religious Society of Friends,
Condamine St (cnr Bent St) Turner.

Anzac Day, Silent Peace Vigil, 3pm at Peace Memorial

We invite you to join with us on ANZAC Day at 3 pm at the Peace Memorial (between the National Library and the Lake), to reflect in silence on the grief and suffering and waste of war; to grieve for all who have died and are suffering through war; and to commit ourselves to build a world without war in which conflicts will be resolved without violence and where women and men contribute equally to the building of peace.  Please bring a flower to place on the Peace Memorial if you wish.

Organised by Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom (ACT Branch)

Further information  Margaret 6247 3739

Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom (WILPF) ACT Branch Newsletter – January/February 2013

WILPF ACT Branch Newsletter_Jan-Feb 2013_ForMembers