Hear the Voices of Women
Anne S. Walker and anonymous, international
September 25, 2001
The photos of smiling families and individuals—all victims of the September 11 attack on the World Trade Center twin towers, are beginning to disappear from the walls, phone booths, bus stands, light poles,
trees and vans in downtown New York City. Some have fallen because of rain. Others are being taken down and collected by city officials for a possible memorial collage. Yet families and friends keep hoping that someone will be found in the mountains of rubble. They hold onto hope with quiet desperation.
Against this background, I sit at my corner desk looking out at a very subdued United Nations building reading through hundreds of emails from women in every world region. And what I hear are women's voices calling for justice, calling for restraint, calling for the use of a system of global justice already in place that utilizes international and national courts of law. And calling for military force not to be used against more innocent and defenseless victims.
The following "voices of women" have been gleaned from these hundreds of emails. Most comment on the need for immediate and long-term solutions in an unequal world capable of producing such violent acts of rage. And they all reflect the growing determination of women to be part of the decision-making processes that will shape our next steps.
AFGHANISTAN: "While we once again announce our solidarity and deep sorrow with the people of the US, we also believe that attacking Afghanistan and killing its most ruined and destitute people will not in
any way decrease the grief of the American people. We sincerely hope that (America) can differentiate between the people of Afghanistan and a handful of fundamentalist terrorists." Revolutionary Association of the Women of Afghanistan (RAWA).
INDIA: "Declaring a war against terrorism alone will not bring peace and security. We need to stop the war against the planet and the people. We need to work for the recovery of democracy and ecological security."
JAPAN: "The United Nations should establish an International Criminal Tribunal to prosecute and punish the perpetrators of the terrorist attack. A just and co-existence world should be created in order to eliminate the root causes of terrorism." Violence Against Women in War Network (VAWW-NET).
EAST TIMOR: "We have all been overwhelmed by the attacks in the USA. Timorese women responded by putting flowers and candles outside the US Mission. But the Timorese never called for Jakarta to be bombed when
their whole country was destroyed (by Indonesian forces) two years ago—the US President could learn from them." Janet Hunt, Dili, East Timor.
KOSOVO: "We have lived through war. We know what it is like to be attacked, to grieve, and to feel anger. We understand the urge for revenge is strong. And we know that it must not be given in to. We know that a violent response can only bring more violence—not justice.
Instead, it kills more innocent victims and gives birth to new holy avengers. It begins a new cycle and perpetuates more hate, more insecurity, more fear and ultimately more death amongst civilians. We therefore urge the US and its allies to temper their anger and to
refrain from the folly of a sweeping military solutions. Terrorists are not nations. And nations must not act like terrorists." Medica Mondiale Kosovo, Women's Center.
GLOBAL: "The Hague Appeal for Peace urges the US administration to use the greatest possible restraint. We call for a national day of healing. We must not allow the atmosphere of hatred to justify acts of war
against unidentified enemies. We cherish the force of law, not the law of force." Cora Weiss, The Hague Appeal for Peace.
KOREA: "We who are women who know about wars are convinced that violence and military force can never bring peace. In this belief, we are strongly united against any acts of war, and demand peaceful resolution
of all conflict. We are working hard to create and maintain peace in the world." Women Making Peace.
SPAIN: "Thousands of people in the heart of Western civilization (New York) have had to die in order for the international community to react and consider putting an end to (terrorists/fundamentalist leaders). The
West never cared when the Taliban attacked Afghan women's rights, when they assaulted them, when they killed them. It has looked in the other direction while in Algeria radical Islamic groups have kidnapped, raped,
killed and ripped to pieces scores of women." Montserrat Boix, journalist and coordinator of Mujeres en Red.
CANADA: "This is a crime against humanity and an international court should mete out the punishment. This is the latest gruesome chapter in an ever expanding cycle of violence that has already claimed cities,
countries and whole generations. How does it increase our security to bomb countries into the stone age?" Alexa McDonough, leader of the New Democratic Party of Canada.
GLOBAL: "Once again our deepest beliefs hold that true security can only be rooted in social justice and strengthening the domestic and international rule of law." Women's International League for Peace and
UK: We need strategies for an inclusive and equal global society, not strategies of war. So long as poverty and hunger, injustice and exploitation are the experience of many people in many countries, genuine despair will lead to hatred of the super powers whose policies are seen to contribute to them, and will be used to legitimate terrorism." Women in Black, London.
PAKISTAN: "As victims of terrorism for a long time, we know very well what it means to humanity. But we do not want Afghan and Pakistan innocent people to be victims of another war in the name of curbing
terrorism. No terrorism against terrorism. It solves nothing." Asma Jahangir, former Chairperson of the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan.
SWEDEN: "How can we find a clever strategy and pass it around all women's networks? If we are silent, we say OK to all war decisions. If we do not act, we pass over the power to the war machines." Evy Warholm.
KUWAIT: "Women of Kuwait also condemn the terrorism that we are sure is not related to Islam. However we don't agree with any retaliation on victims who always include children and women very heavily. We should
all support the fight against terrorism and support war against terrorists based on justice and fair and wise act." Fatima Al-Abdali.
GREECE: "There is solidarity around the world today. You are so right to ask for conflict resolution. To ask for peace. Now more than ever, all of us women, from around the world, need immediately to re-organize and
form new alliances that will look to peace and conflict resolution." Christiana Lambrinidis.
CROATIA: "The only way out is through strengthening international legal mechanisms and international co-operation in investigation, extraditions and punishment of those who are directly responsible for organization
and performance of terrorist acts. We firmly demand a thorough investigation and oppose revengeful military actions." B.a.B.e., Be active, Be emancipated, Women's Human Rights Group.
CANADA: "We firmly believe that it is the role of legal institutions, such as the International Criminal Court, to hold accountable those individuals responsible and bring them to justice. Our hopes lie in working to end injustice and oppression, in building positive cooperative relationships amongst all people. In short, in creating a global culture of peace." Voice of Women for Peace.
INDIA: "How will the hurt and the consequent anger be assuaged? Would the quest for justice to the loss of lives of the innocents lead us all into other conflicts? How do we work together towards conflict resolution and peace?" Ila Pathek, Ahmedabad Women's Action Group
USA: "Those responsible must be brought to justice. Ultimately peace and security cannot come through military power alone, but must be borne of thoughtful, determined diplomacy and negotiation." Women's Action for New Directions (WAND).
GLOBAL: "Our work for international peace, women's rights, economic justice and development feels ever more urgent and important. The levels of poverty, oppression and marginalization related to power imbalances
need to be acknowledged and redressed. International solidarity, understanding and action are essential." Association for Women's Rights in Development (AWID).
Women's petitions and statements, vigils and marches are some of the actions already undertaken or being planned. The web site set up by the Women's International League for Peace and Freedom (UN Office) contains many of the petitions and statements.
From IWTC [International Women's Tribune Centre] WOMEN'S GLOBALNET, #179, Initiatives and Activities of Women Worldwide.