From Portside <[email protected]>
Subject Statement for a Feminist Foreign Policy to Confront the Coronavirus Pandemic
Date May 10, 2020 1:06 PM
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[This pandemic calls for us to challenge our militarized notion of
security. There is ample evidence that a militarized response will
further criminalize marginalized communities of color who are often
targets of over-policing and imprisonment.] [[link removed]]

STATEMENT FOR A FEMINIST FOREIGN POLICY TO CONFRONT THE CORONAVIRUS
PANDEMIC  
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May 5, 2020
Women Cross DMZ,
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_ This pandemic calls for us to challenge our militarized notion of
security. There is ample evidence that a militarized response will
further criminalize marginalized communities of color who are often
targets of over-policing and imprisonment. _

,

 

_NOTE: In February, three organizations — MADRE
[[link removed]], Women Cross DMZ
[[link removed]], and Grassroots Global Justice
Alliance [[link removed]] — convened a group of 23 women
and gender nonconforming people from across the United States in order
to engage in a cross-movement dialogue on our collective work against
militarism and war in order to examine, challenge, and reimagine US
foreign policy._

_While our convening occurred before the coronavirus became a global
pandemic, this public health crisis has only amplified the need to
redistribute resources, restructure society, and create long-term
solutions that prioritize the true needs of all people._

_The following statement represents the beginning of a larger
conversation to redefine our sense of “national security” using
the framework of a feminist foreign policy for peace and justice._

The coronavirus pandemic has revealed the urgent need to address the
impact of US militarism and wars at home and abroad, and to redefine
our collective sense of “national security.” 

To date [[link removed]], more than 1 million
people have been sickened worldwide, and in the United States,
thousands of people have died. Meanwhile, healthcare workers lack
proper protective equipment and hospitals face shortages of diagnostic
tests and ventilators. Lack of affordable healthcare and insurance in
the US has exacerbated conditions of precarity for the most vulnerable
among us, including people without permanent shelter, the working
class, people with disabilities, and sex workers.

While US officials frame the effort to halt the coronavirus pandemic
as a “war” — healthcare workers are “on the front line”
fighting an “invisible enemy,” and Trump has called himself a
“wartime president
[[link removed]]”
— this is not a war but a global health emergency that necessitates
urgent international cooperation. 

This crisis reveals a deeply broken notion of “national security.”
The US spends
[[link removed]] just $7
billion on the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention — a
decline of about 10 percent over the last decade — while spending on
the US military exceeds
[[link removed]] $900
billion. This pandemic calls us to redefine our sense of “national
security” using the framework of a feminist foreign policy for peace
and justice. 

As transnational feminists united against militarization and war, we
call for a feminist foreign policy that reorients the United States’
role in the global community to prioritize interdependence, connection
and cooperation, justice, valuing people and the planet over profit,
and protecting the most vulnerable among us. We envision a radically
reoriented US foreign policy that addresses the root causes of war and
militarism, which wages violence at home and abroad. This calls for
aligning the concerns of US communities of color and Indigenous
Peoples with peace and justice movements in places impacted by US
militarism and the legacies of colonialism. Building this vision
requires us to engage in cross-movement and cross-border conversations
that center the voices and leadership of women of color, Indigenous
Peoples, queer, and gender nonconforming people committed to gender
justice and peace — voices that have been absent from dominant
discourses on foreign policy. 

We must recognize that the militaristic framework has failed us both
domestically and internationally. Massive investments in the Pentagon
have wreaked violence and instability around the world through the
support of dictatorships, coups, the “war on drugs”, “war on
trafficking”, and settler colonial states, resulting in the
displacement of millions of people worldwide. The immigrant
“caravan” arriving at the US border, for example, is directly
related to decades of US foreign policy throughout the Americas. We
also see this in the militarized response to the coronavirus pandemic,
such as continuing ICE raids in US cities and the increased military
presence at borders
[[link removed]],
refugee camps, and check-points. Anti-Asian sentiments are
particularly on the rise during this pandemic, leading to a sharp
rise in anti-Asian 
[[link removed]]violence,
as well as hawkish anti-China rhetoric and proposals that are further
exacerbating tensions between the US and China.

This pandemic calls for us to challenge our militarized notion of
security. While many may applaud the use of the military and police to
build emergency hospitals and enforce social distancing, we are
concerned that this amplified militarized state, as conditions worsen,
will be used to quash social movements. There is ample evidence that a
militarized response will further criminalize marginalized communities
of color who are often targets of over-policing, mass surveillance,
and imprisonment. Leaders around the world are already seizing this
opportunity to expand their executive powers
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with troubling implications for equity and justice. 

We call for investments in a regenerative economy to build a more
socially fair and ecologically sustainable society. This must include
recognizing the gendered impact of the pandemic as nurses, teachers,
domestic workers, caregivers, cleaning and food service workers —
roles typically occupied by women — are now being recognized as the
true backbone of society. Yet this labor is some of the most
undervalued and least paid. Women already perform a majority of unpaid
labor in the home — which has increased and intensified with social
distancing and stay-at-home measures — while continuing to maintain
their jobs with little support for, or reprieve from, their added
caregiving responsibilities. And for millions of women and gender
nonconforming people currently forced to stay inside, home is the
most dangerous place
[[link removed]].  

It is nearly impossible to control the virus in communities devastated
by warfare, where hospitals lie in rubble and water treatment plants
have been destroyed. That’s why Yemeni, Syrian and Afghan women
demanded ceasefires weeks ago. UN Secretary-General António Guterres
[[link removed]] followed suit, calling for a global
ceasefire. This call provides a historic window for a new US foreign
policy built on strengthening global cooperation and diplomacy,
including facilitating coordinated, mutually beneficial responses
between nations. Other countries are modeling this kind of leadership,
including Cuba, which is sending doctors overseas, and China and South
Korea, which are shipping test kits and other critical supplies. As
the wealthiest nation in the world, the United States has the
responsibility to assist impoverished countries facing the pandemic
— with no strings attached. If a vaccine is developed in the US, it
must be freely shared with the global community. 

A cornerstone of US foreign policy is sanctions, which is war by other
means. Given the interconnectedness of the global economy, sanctions
are another lethal form of militarism, impeding economic development
and hampering delivery of urgently needed humanitarian aid,
life-saving medicine and medical equipment. 

To rectify historic injustices and contribute to a world rooted in
equity over inequality, care of the planet over exploitation of
resources, and cooperation instead of domination, we urge you to join
us in the immediate call for the following actions:

* REALLOCATE PENTAGON SPENDING TOWARDS MEETING HUMAN NEEDS as
outlined by the People’s Bailout [[link removed]],
including healthcare and paid sick and family leave for all, halting
of evictions and foreclosures, and honoring treaty obligations to
Indigenous Peoples.
* RESPECT AND EXTEND THE GLOBAL CEASEFIRE, end active military
operations, and permanently change course away from endless wars
toward peacebuilding, diplomacy and development.
* PERMANENTLY LIFT US ECONOMIC SANCTIONS against Cuba, Iran, North
Korea, Venezuela, Zimbabwe, and 25 other countries.
* STOP US POLITICAL, ECONOMIC AND MILITARY SUPPORT FOR AUTHORITARIAN
GOVERNMENTS, such as Israel and India, that inflict violence on the
people of Palestine and Kashmir.
* DRASTICALLY REDUCE JAIL, PRISON AND DETENTION CENTER
POPULATIONS and immediately release people from detention conditions
that increase the spread of COVID-19.

Now is the time to join together to create the change we envision. By
mobilizing ourselves and our communities, we can democratize US
foreign policy, not only for our own collective security, but for the
future of all peoples and our planet.   

Christine Ahn, Women Cross DMZ and Korea Peace Now! Women Mobilizing
to End the War

Mizue Aizeki, Immigrant Defense project

Medea Benjamin, Code Pink 

Phyllis Bennis, Institute for Policy Studies – New Internationalism
Project

Linda Burnham, Author and Activist

Jazmín Delgado, Center for Political Education 

Diana Duarte, MADRE

Noura Erakat, Rutgers University 

Adom Getachew, University of Chicago 

Chung-Wha Hong, Grassroots International

Catherine Killough, Women Cross DMZ

Helen Kim, Consultant

Akhila Kolisetty, MADRE

Hyun Lee, Women Cross DMZ

Thenjiwe McHarris, Blackbird, Movement for Black Lives (M4BL)

Nadine Naber, University of Illinois and Mamas Activating Movements
for Abolition and Solidarity (MAMAS)

Cynthia Oka, Grassroots Global Justice Alliance 

Brittany Ramos DeBarros, About Face — Veterans Against the War  

Kathleen Ok-soo Richards, Women Cross DMZ

Sima Shakhsari, University of Minnesota

Tasia Ahuja Smith, Consultant

Yifat Susskind, MADRE

Cindy Wiesner, Grassroots Global Justice Alliance

Sunyoung Yang, Grassroots Global Justice Alliance

Janene Yazzie, Sixth World Solutions

_We thank the Rockefeller Brothers Fund (RBF), Open Society
Foundations, and the RBF Pocantico Center for their support of this
groundbreaking convening._

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