Addressing modern challenges in an innovative way – Yerevan 7.-9.6.2017

28. Juni 2017

Heidi Meinzolts Rede auf dem WILPF Yerevan Peace Award:

Yerevan Peace Award

It could be easy to say that I am not coming from a conflict zone. Am I concerned as you by the amount of problems and your dramatic narratives? No! But we have a lot to share:

Also in Germany and in most parts of Europe and the EU, we are facing growing violence against women, terrible backdrops regarding women’s rights (eg. abortion law discussed in Poland, NGO law in Hungary). We experience women trafficking for sex business and forced prostitution as well as slavery working conditions. We still have a gender pay gap of 25% in Austria (referendum planned) and growing female poverty (especially for single mothers and older women). Right wing politicians (with women leaders in France and Germany!) contribute excessively to the de-gendering of the debates and mainstream media follow them. The specific problems of refugee women don’t get adequate answers, the shelters are often not secure – if they are mixed or lack well prepared personal, and trauma healing is totally under-financed, social services and education are lacking, as well as perspectives for an independent living and economic perspectives for women. If these women don’t have access to child care, they have difficulties to tell their stories to social workers, police and jurists. The concentration of measures against violent extremism marginalise often women, while they could play an essential role on their cultural background influencing family members. While all the problems happen in the middle of the EU, we have to oppose the dirty deals with dictatorial regimes or economic partners to keep refugees out while in the countries xenophobia and new walls have conjuncture.

Positive note: Germany has just ratified the Istanbul Convention pushed by strong CS groups. Next steps are to be made in the implementation.

I am also fully aware that Germany as the 3rd big arm’s trader in the world exports a lot of harm (and I don’t speak about the nuclear powers as permanent members in the UNSC and all the partners of dictators in the world): Our way of living, of production based on cheap labour for capitalistic profit and privileges, exploitation of human and natural resources -while women are the majority of small farmers and champions for microcredits – and we externalise tons of waste and grab their land. Our countries are traders of death in the name of „security“ because they send weapons to conflict affected countries where they fuel war and cause violence against women (also domestic violence).

For us as feminists, inequality, injustice, economic interests not serving the needs of the people are interlinked and root causes of war – which WILPF analyses since more than 100 years. „Growing disparity in wealth, diminishes our possibilities and the free market on the neoliberal agenda will not solve any of the problems. Our institutions, politicians, parties are all contaminated by money“, I quote Sonia Lokar who recommends as only way out: “issue based cross-cutting coalitions”. That’s what women have to push for!

We denounce the lies of our leading experts, politicians and media when they just talk about crisis, “crisis of globalisation”, of “economy”, of “refugees”, of “democracy” while they mean modernisation, patriotism, new nationalism and exclusion.

We feel united with all of you when we raise our voices against continuous neglecting of the root causes of war. We stigmatise Germany arm’s export to Saudi Arabia because they cause massive disaster for Yemeni women, to Peshmerga who sell their weapons on black markets, but we blame also the US who modernise their nuclear arsenal on our territory. We reproached insufficient restrictions towards arms export directives and laws in the CEDAW process, we struggle against militarisation on all levels of thinking in security terms (fortress Europe, new walls, new school programs….).

We request to move the money from war to peace – please join the campaign!

We refuse that our government spends 2% of the National product as requested by NATO, say no to militarised border „management“ through NATO and FRONTEX, to the proposal of diverting development money for „security“ issues, to promote austerity measures which create and promote female poverty, debts and social misery. We don‘t need female defence ministers who promote a „family friendly army“ ( such as Mrs von der Leyen in Germany). We oppose the tendency to misuse UNSCR1325 for military purposes as long as women are not equally present at peace tables. We need the money for our common peace projects, education and training, health and social security, trust building measures and human security in a comprehensive sense.

We protest against shrinking space for civil society because this reduces drastically and primarily women’s space.

We request women in peace negotiations on all levels of decision making, local women’s expertise for early warning and prevention in cross- border and cross-dimensional activities.

We need considerable investments in economic possibilities for women also through the re-evaluation of care-work.

We support adequate shelters for refugee women and ways to protect them against patriarchal suppression.

Only together we can build the necessary coalitions for real transformative politics.