2001: Appeal of the World March of Women for the Construction of a Just, Equal, Cooperative, Democratic and Peaceful World

In the wake of the attacks on New York City and Washington – October 2001, Montreal

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We, women of the World March entered the third millennium marching against poverty and all forms of violence against women because these two scourges disfigure and undermine humanity, engendering terrible consequences of hate, cruelty, despair and blocking any hope of living in a world characterized by solidarity, equality, pluralism, peace and pacifism. In every country, we marched against injustice, ignorance, violence, fundamentalism, racism, discrimination, exclusion, and wars and against the social ills that serve as a breeding ground for all forms of terrorism.

We, delegates from 35 countries who are in Montréal for the 3rd International Meeting of the World March of Women, vigorously condemn once again, all terrorist acts perpetrated on the planet, of which those of September 11 constitute the latest barbaric examples. The thousands of citizens savagely killed in these attacks join the numerous thousands of innocent civilians who, long before September 11, were also brutally wiped off the face of the world, victims of equally barbaric acts of terrorism: wars improperly termed “humanitarian” or “low-intensity,” state violence, economic blockades, occupations, colonialism, genocide, patriarchal oppression (“honour” crimes, wife assault, genital mutilation, sex trafficking), and the hunger and misery springing daily from the intolerable inequity of the global economic system. Our sympathy goes to all the victims and their loved ones.

We, women of the World March, went to the UN exactly a year ago and passionately denounced the numerous dirty wars ravaging our peoples. We clearly identified the leading players whose interests mutually reinforce one another: the major powers, the arms industry, transnational companies, corrupt governments, dictators, religious fundamentalists, organized crime, and drug lords. We were there as the living witnesses of the violence and injustice suffered by thousands of women as a result of armed conflict. We insisted that the women of the planet no longer want to bring children into the world so that they can go to war. We demanded the respect of human rights, the implementation of all the UN Conventions, and a negotiated political resolution to the conflicts. We were not heard.

Today, faced with the return in force of warriors of every description, our voices rise up louder than ever to recall:

– the tinderbox constituted by Israel’s occupation of Palestinian lands; their use of the September 11 events to legitimize and accentuate aggression against the Palestinian people, and their refusal to take part in a negotiated political solution to the conflict according to UN resolutions;

– the length, scope and intensity of the tragedies in Rwanda, Angola, Burundi, Sierra Leone, Democratic Republic of Congo, Liberia, Sudan, Ethiopia, Eritrea, and Sri Lanka;

– the massacres in Algeria, the horrors experienced in East Timor, and the situations in Mexico and Indonesia (Molukken);

– the plight of political prisoners who are suffering in Turkish, Moroccan, Latin American and other prisons around the world;

– the impact on civilian populations of the conflicts in the Balkans, Kurdistan, Georgia, Chechnya and so many other countries;

– the fragility and failures of the peace process in Northern Ireland.

We feel the echoes in our bodies of the Taliban’s inexpressible violations of Afghan women, carried out with complete impunity for more than a decade and reinforced by the idleness of the international community. The women of Burma, Iran, Iraq and Pakistan are no better off. We know the consequences on the Latin-American peoples of the U.S.-financed and orchestrated Colombia Plan. We reiterate our indignation at the oppression of indigenous peoples around the globe. We all share the burden of all the conflicts of the world. We want an end to war.

We, women of the World March of Women, thus affirm our total opposition to an armed intervention against a country or group of countries to resolve the crisis engendered by the events of September 11:

– because this response generates additional suffering and destruction and does nothing to solve the problems at the root of violence. On the contrary, it exacerbates the state of poverty and humiliation of the populations directly affected by such interventions.

– because, as we know from experience, women and children are always the principal victims of armed conflict with the most disadvantaged peoples. The threat of a NATO military intervention has forced millions of Afghans who were already dramatically impoverished into flight.

– because the U.S. government, backed by unconditional allies, will strengthen its hegemony as global cop, and continue to impose its “new global order.” It will continue to oppose the international instruments essential to peace, sustainable development and women’s equality, including: the Convention for the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women, the Kyoto Protocol, the Treaty to institute an International Criminal Court, the Convention Against Land Mines;

– because the arms industry and military budgets will increase to the detriment of health, education, social security and environmental protection programs;

– because many governments will use it to justify the escalation of xenophobia; the tightening of their borders, thereby erecting a fortress against immigrants and refugees; the endangerment and even suppression of civil rights and fundamental freedoms, particularly those of women; and the criminalization of any opposition to the current state of neo-liberal and sexist globalization;

– because it will strengthen dictatorship and religious fundamentalism everywhere.

We, women of the World March of Women:

– demand that those responsible for the attacks be clearly identified and brought to justice. The spirit of law must take precedence over the law of vengeance and vigilantes;

– support the increasingly numerous voices of citizens and organizations in the United States and all over the world demanding a radical change of course in U.S. foreign policy;

– demand that the UN intervene much more actively to prevent any form of military intervention in the current crisis; bring to an end all current acts of military intervention, conflicts and occupations; assure the right to asylum and the rights of refugees to return to their home countries;

– demand that all countries ratify and implement the Convention Against Land Mines;

– affirm the urgency of negotiated political resolution of all conflicts. Women must be active participants in such negotiations;

– demand the immediate lifting of embargoes and blockades (Cuba, Iraq). Women and children are the primary victims of such sanctions;

– demand the complete prohibition of the manufacture and sale of arms and demand that States implement disarmament policies covering both classic weapons of war and nuclear and biological weapons.

We, women of the World March of Women, propose a long process demanding patience and determination, to build a world of justice and equality between women and men as an alternative to terrorist acts and armed interventions. We reaffirm our desire to live in a world where the security of persons is valued more than the security of nations and where all human beings enjoy the same rights and freedoms regardless of their sex, ethnic origin, nationality, religion or sexual orientation. We, women of the World March unite in solidarity with all the people across the planet who are mobilizing to affirm that “another world is possible” and to make it happen right now!