Women's International League for Peace and Freedom (WILPF)

Sunday, August 07, 2011

See The Whistleblower

CJ with director LarysaThe Whistleblower is a political thriller starring Rachel Weiscz. It is now playing in LA and NYC, with more cities being rolled out in the coming weeks.

Larysa Kondracki, the director and co-writer of the film spent two years researching the reality of peace-keeping operations in Bosnia before writing the script. Weiscz plays Kathyryn Balkovac, a Nebraskan cop who goes to Bosnia as a Dyncorp employee, part of the international police task force. Like many people, she chose to work overseas because of the high pay without taxes.

C.J. met director Larysa Kondracki at a special screening of The Whistleblower on Wednesday, August 3.

The first time I saw the film, I was overwhelmed with horror. It was more difficult to watch than any film on a battlefield, because the war in this movie takes place on the bodies of enslaved women. Years ago, I heard that there were more slaves in the world today than at any point in human history. I thought that was hyperbole until the cold truth was dramatized for me.

Even more shocking is that the drama is true.

Everything that is portrayed in the film actually happened. It did not necessarily happen to those characters, but it happened. The sadness and the tragedy is that not enough was done. --Madeleine Rees, former Head of Office in Bosnia and Herzegovina, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights

Ms. Rees is portrayed by Vanessa Redgrave in the film. Though it may be unclear from simply watching the drama, she was instrumental in shining light on the situation in Bosnia. So much so that she was pushed out of the UN and filed a discrimination lawsuit. While Rees was able to find employment after leaving the UN (she is currently the Secretary General of Women's International League for Peace and Freedom), Balkovac is struggling to find meaningful employment, though she did publish a memoir of her experience.

Join the WILPF campaign to challenge the idea that immunity equals impunity.

Rees explains how human rights has framed her work and what she's doing now to challenge the idea that immunity equals impunity:

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Executive Committee Elected, Program Discussed, Departure

This post was written by Catia Confortini, WILPF US Representative to the International Board.

This is my last blog report from the 30th WILPF International Congress. Today was our voting day and I am glad to report that we elected as new International President Adilia Caravaca from Costa Rica. The four Vice Presidents elected were Martha Jean Baker from the UK, Ila Pathak from India, Neelima Sihn from India and Kirsten Griebaeck from Sweden. Nancy Ramsden will continue to be our International Treasurer. We also approved a number of resolutions and the International Program, all of which will soon be published on the international congress website.

WILPF Secretary General Madeleine Rees has committed to revise the international program she and WILPF staff drafted by the end of September 2011 to incorporate the good suggestions received at congress. She insisted that Program and Resolutions are empty words if not for us who will translate them into action. During the discussion the UK representative Lorraine Mirham suggested that, once Madeleine has produced the final version, we make sure the program is circulated among the branches and members, and that could also make part of the packet that we send to new members when they pay their first membership fee.

I will make sure to circulate the program to the branches list and on WILPF website and this blog, but it is up to you to bring it to each other attention. If you are a contact person for your branch, make sure these blogs as well as the international program and information from the congress website reaches your members!

I forgot to mention in my previous reports that we had a very productive meetings of the Americas, where we decided to create a quarterly bulletin describing the activities of our sections and branches and linking them to international program, in particular with the two WILPF projects in New York. The bulletin will be bilingual. I will send you more information about the decisions taken at this meeting when the minutes are approved and translated.

Last night we were treated to a vegetarian, organic dinner organized by the Costa Rican Section and prepared and served by volunteers from a network of women’s cooperatives that serves to empower rural women in Costa Rica and help them find markets for their products. Many of us bought souvenirs and food products to bring home with them. Who knows, next time you go to one of your WILPF sisters’ house you will be washing your hands with Costa Rica organic fairly traded soap! It is here that I would like to thank the Costa Rican section (and in particular our new International President) for the marvelous organization, for their hospitality and tireless work and the new ties of friendship develop in San Jose. I also would like to thank the International staff and the Swedish section for having generously donated time and resources to make this possible. In particular, big kudos go to young WILPFer Karin Friedrich who, on her own time and money, went from Sweden to Geneva to put this congress together. Her attention to detail, dedication to WILPF, and many many hours of work made all run incredibly smoothly. Young WILPFer Jennifer from the UK Section is going to set up a Flick’r account where pictures from Congress will be posted hopefully very soon!

As final commentary about congress, I would like to commend and thank the US delegation for having positively contributed to this congress in so many ways and for their commitment to the work of WILPF International. Look for more news about the congress on the next issue of Peace and Freedom, where many of our delegation members will be contributing articles on the different subjects discussed at congress and on the wonderful developing contacts with WILPFers around the world!

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Thursday, August 04, 2011

Five New WILPF Sections, PeaceWomen and 100th Birthday Planning

This post was written by WILPF US Representative to the international board, Catia Confortini.

Today five new sections were admitted into our WILPF sisterhood: the DRC, Spain, Mexico, Pakistan, and Nigeria. Last night Molly, Kristin, Morgan, Alicia and I had a fabulous meal at a downtown restaurant together with the representatives of one of Nigeria. These two young women, Adanna and Joy, have done an amazing work to form the new section, with 30 members and a impressive range of activities. You can read their report and see some of their photos on the international congress website.

Earlier today we listened as Maria Butler described the work she is doing as director of the PeaceWomen project. Maria pointed out how PeaceWomen's work is about monitoring and accountability to the commitments express in 1325, offering a library of information, advocacy, and outreach, while keeping local contexts and local differences present in our mind, but also seeing as proper of our organization, the connections and similarities in our lives and the lives of women around the world. A really important task we have is to increase section collaboration, a part of PeaceWomen's work that needs fostering. PeaceWomen works in coalition and integrate our work with disarmament and other thematics. Outreach is done in a variety of ways, one of the most important ones being the translation of United Nations Security Council Resolution 1325 into over 100 languages. Now 1325 is the most translated resolution ever in local languages, and this also talks about the ownership of the resolution by women's organizations who use it in their contexts. PeaceWomen have also started 1820 translation, so if any of us has expertise in a language that we don't have please contact Maria at PW to offer your expertise toward the translation of 1820.

Among the amazing number of activities that PW organized was a civil society space in NY in occasion of 1325, a week long fair organized on the theme of prevention, with a women's march to the UN Security Council to let them know that this is the women's resolution and we will keep ownership and enforce its application.

As a final highlight of Maria's speech, PeaceWomen has also done a comprehensive analysis of the UN Security Council to analyze how and to what extent the SC has adopted gender language and gender analysis in its work. They also included recommendations to what kind of language and analytical framework to use. Now there is also an iPhone app that can be downloaded.

The afternoon program was devoted to the welcoming of new sections and to a description of the events to celebrate the 100th anniversary of WILPF on April 28, 2015. An international steering group is working on it, including our ex Secretary General and US member Susi Snyder. We are going to meet at the Peace Palace from April 22 to April 25 and have a big anniversary event for the jubilee at the World Forum on April 28. The steering group has already started working, talking to Hague officials, writing grants, securing web domains and spaces, but there is still a lot of work to do. A steering group is set in place coordinating with secretary general and with some subgroups with specific tasks. There will be a group on our story, which will collect the wealth of information and published material on our story and present it. A fundraising group will contact potential donors, individuals, foundations, governments to donate to this campaign. A logistics group will deal and sort out lodging, food, scheduling, travel, etc. Media and publicity will tackle publicity and media relations. Communication will look inside and outside WILPF to make sure we all talk to each other and to our international partners, providing materials for local partnerships. The Program group will organize the workshops, speakers, the gala event, the film event etc. We need to look forward, find people who can help with fundraising or donate, people who want to help with the organization, have events to advertise it. We are looking for members to make up the Committee of 100 who will commit to donate or raise one thousand Dollars, Euros or Swiss Franks toward the Congress. The easiest way to donate is through WILPF International website.

Wednesday, August 03, 2011

Reaching Critical Will: Challenging Nuclear Power and Nuclear Weapons

This post was written by Catia Confortini, the US Section Representative to the International Board of WILPF.

Official day 2 of International Congress! We started with a report from Ray Acheson, director of the Reaching Critical Will project. Ray is helped in this by Beatrice Fihn in Geneva, who couldn't be here as she is due in one month and couldn't travel. Ray beautifully summarized the excellent work that RCW is doing, which is unique to WILPF, as we bring gender and economic, social and environmental justice analysis to disarmament and militarization issues. RCW works with other organizations, with academics to produce reports and analysis that supports local branches in their local actions, but also does advocacy at UN treaty bodies and supports the advocacy of local branches. Ray asked that we let her know of any action that any section or branch undertakes and how RCW can support them. They are currently working on a number of specific areas, including work with the Conference on Disarmament, the Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons, the NonProliferation Treaty and many others. Her email is on the RCW website at http://reachingcriticalwill.org. I would also suggest you visit that website regularly to see the wealth of information the project has assembled. Ray also mentioned the work of our own Carol Urner, of the LA and Portland, OR branches in conjunction with RCW on disarmament. RCW is also trying to lobby for an Arms Trade Treaty that will put obstacles to the trade in arms, rather than facilitate it as some countries would like to, and to add a gender perspective to such treaty. The negotiations for this treaty are going to start in July and that gives us some time to get our voices heard. If anybody is interested in working with RCW on this, they should contact Ray. Finally, Ray talked about WILPF's work against nuclear energy, on which WILPF's position has long been that it cannot be separated from production of nuclear weapons. WILPF has a unique role to play in challenging militarism, saying that there is a two way street between militarism and many of the problems of the world. Violations of women's rights are linked to militarism. Disarmament is human right.

Following Ray we had a moving presentation from Japanese Section delegate Kozue Akibayashi who described the tragic consequences of the recent earthquake, in particular the radioactive spillover from the damage at the Fukushima power plant. There is a government coverup of the real data on contamination and its present and future effects on human health and the environment. With great difficulty and contrition, Kozue moved everyone to tears when she said the following: "My country is greatly responsible for damage to the environment and to future generations. Radiation cannot be seen, so we don't know how this will impact the future generations but we know that nobody will be safe." The Japanese section is asking for sister sections' solidarity and for local work against nuclear energy, especially against the 'Atoms For Peace' campaign, which is in reality, the Spanish section later pointed out, a political masquerade that ends up supporting the production of nuclear weapons. Robin Lloyd of the Vermont branch succinctly explained WILPF's and other civil society organizations' efforts to close down the nuclear plant in their state. These kinds of actions are, it seems to me, an important opportunity to link the work we are doing locally to Reaching Critical Will and the work of WILPF International.

The second part of the morning was occupied by the International Treasurer report. Our own Nancy Ramsden stressed the excellent program fundraising job that RCW and PeaceWomen are doing. They are financially healthy parts of our organization, but the rest of WILPF badly needs to step up our fundraising efforts, not only through grant writing but also through local help and support for international. Madeleine needs an office director in the Geneva office and the NY Office also would need one, but we need people who are qualified and competent professionals, because we have had bad experiences with well meaning help who however was not qualified to do that kind of work. We have now 3-4 months worth of money now left in Geneva for operating budget (which includes Madeleine Rees' salary) and only 2,000 dollars left in the UNO office. We have, however, a number of outstanding grant applications that might help our international office extend our financial sustainability. But programs can be funded through grants, but office work and operating budget is much harder to raise money for. There is a really urgent need to raise money from the sections if we want to save WILPF. Madeleine Rees, WILPF International Secretary General, stressed that we need to be a membership driven organization that doesn't need to raise money for its operating budget.

The fundraising workshop addressed precisely these issues. Petra Totterman Andorff, the secretary general of the Swedish section, showed the very effective tactics that enabled the section to go from 1/2 person employed to 4 people employed and the capacity to support other sections and international as well as well as with a vibrant number of young committed members. Petra stressed that having good, strategic projects to start with that connect the local branches, the national organization and the international is an essential part of fundraising, because it gives visibility to the organization and attracts program money from where we can start building capacity. She mentioned US WILPF in particular, citing the 1325 campaigns (the Whistleblower campaign and others) as good examples of projects that get us started toward creating a stronger organization. we are getting excellent feedback from international and other sections on these plans, so I urge you take engage in them to the best of your capacity! If your branch has not yet replied to Tanya's inquiry about your willingness to participate in our Whistleblower campaign, do so! I also want to stress that a number of other sections are also doing actions both around the Whistleblower and on Security Council Resolution 1325. You will have the opportunity to see how 1325 relates to WILPF's International Program once the Congress approves it. Our US campaign is wonderfully in line with it and I felt very proud that it was mentioned by the Swedish section representative.

This is again it for today. More will come tomorrow!

WILPF International Congress Begins

This report was written by the US Section Representative to the International Board, Catia Confortini.

Hello from WILPF International Congress in Costa Rica! This is your incoming IB representative's first email from Congress, and I hope this will not be the last, hopefully I will have some time each day to write a little something. The US delegation is 25-member strong and many of us have committed to write up short pieces from Congress for the next issue of Peace and Freedom, so watch out for it in the next couple of months.

I arrived on Saturday July 30, so I missed the apparently very rich and interesting Gertrude Baer seminar, but don't worry, you'll hopefully be reading all about it in Peace and Freedom!

During my first full day in Costa Rica we were delighted to go on a very interesting trip to a coffee plantation where we learned a lot about how coffee is grown, picked (by hand, mostly by migrant workers), and dried to be ready for export. Of course being WILPF women we all asked the difficult questions of our guide: how much do the workers get per basket of berries, do they get benefits, are they unionized, are they documented, do you spray the trees, how sustainable is your estate, etc. I have to say that, although workers are mainly Nicaraguans and often without papeles, they receive free housing and electricity from that employer as well as medical attention and schooling for their children for free from the government.

During the trip we also had the chance to start filming short videos, asking WILPFEers to explain what security means to them, as part of our 1325/Whistleblower campaign. They will be available shortly on the Facebook page of the campaign (which I encourage you to 'like' and make use of, including filling out the survey about security).

Later in the day we had a meeting of the US delegation, to get to know each other, brainstorm and help each other understand the subtleties and sensitivities of intercultural communication, but also to divvy up tasks and journalistic assignments for Peace and Freedom. We have a very enthusiastic and knowledgeable group, eager to contribute to International as well as communicate what happens at this Congress to their respective branches.

My second day began with a very interesting lecture by anthropologist Anna Arroba who talked about the history of patriarchy and the destruction of early civilizations' matriarchies due to the needs of war making. Sarah Masters, of IANSA, the International Action Network on Small Arms, pointed to the need of alliance between WILPF and IANSA across common action points, using the the women, peace and security agenda to work on the gendered impact of small arms in our communities and in the world. During the second part of the day we all attended several workshops. Because our delegation is so much bigger than other sections (the second largest section being Sweden, with 15 members. We make up in fact about 1/4 of the entire congress I believe), we made an effort to spread ourselves across all different workshops. You will also have the chance to read about some of theses workshops on Peace and Freedom.

Today is the third day and as I write I am multitasking and listening to the very interesting presentation of the new sections, namely the DRC, Nigeria, Mexico, Pakistan and Spain. These new sections were created through the support of other sections and the work of WILPF Vice-President Amparo Guerrero. Earlier we had a very interesting morning, where the French delegate presented her somewhat controversial vision for WILPF, followed by a response by WILPF Co-President Annelise Ebbe and then small group discussions.

This concludes my email from Congress for today. Let me however thank my two predecessors, Darien DeLu and Audley Green for mentoring me into this task and patiently put up with my inexperience and mistakes. I hope I will live up to their legacies!

Sunday, July 31, 2011

July 27, Fr. Louis Vitale and MacGregor Eddy arrested while Vandenberg breaks the law

This post was written by MacGregor Eddy.
The July 27th test missile launch by USA in violation of Non Proliferation Treaty failed!

Fr. Louie Vitale and MacGregor Eddy ( myself ) were arrested at 1:20 am July 27, protesting the launch of a nuclear weapon delivery system from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California. The missile was destroyed by Vandenberg Air Force Base over the Pacific Ocean because of a malfunction (anomaly ) .

Jim Haber and Mary Lou Anderson of the Nevada Desert Experience as well as world war II veteran Bud Boothe and legal observer Kelly Gray attended at midnight protest of the ICBM launch from Vandenberg Space Command near Lompoc Cal. The nuclear capable, solid fuel, high speed test missile was set to land in Kwajalein atoll, in the Marshall Islands of the Pacific Ocean.

Fr. Louie and I were cited and released to go on trial in federal court later. The US and UN treat North Korea as a danger when the DRPK launches a few, liquid fuel, short to medium range missiles. The US, UN and NATO use the North Korean missile tests as an excuse to build up military in Pacific area. The building of a Naval base on Jeju Island, South Korea is part of this build up. The Aegis destroyers set use the proposed Jeju base (under the mutual defense agreement all South Korean bases are open to US vessels) .

Fr. Louie and myself were inspired by the actions of the people of Gangjeong to go onto the base and attempt to stop the launch by citing international law and the need for world peace. We read the statement by David Krieger of the Nuclear Age Peace Foundation which states that these test missile launches create international tension and decrease security.

We made the decision to go onto the base and try to stop the launch when we thought of Brother Song Kang-Ho climbing onto a huge barge to try to persuade the construction crew not to destroy the beautiful coral reef of Jeju Island, the Island of peace. We thought of Mr. Go Kwan-Il lying under a 200 ton crane to stop it from destroying the shore of the island of peace for a base of war. Just because something seems impossible (stopping the launch) does not mean we cannot try to do it if it is the right thing to do. We talked it over and were inspired by the people of Gangjeong to try to stop the launch using non violence and reason and law.

personal note : I am not as brave as the people of Gangjeong, so I was nervous of the huge Air Force Base at night. Fr. Louie was not afraid at all. HIs calm and clarity are amazing.

Fr. Louie felt at home in Lompoc because the federal prison where he lived for the last six months is right there on the same federal land as Vandenberg Air Force Base. He served six months for protesting the teaching of torture and repression at the School of the Americas in Fort Benning Georgia.

When we were arrested we asked the Military Police to then arrest the commander of Vandenberg Air Force Base for violation of an international treaty which under the US constitution is the highest law of the land. All US military swear to defend the Constitution. (The do not swear to uphold current foreign policy ) They stated "no comment".

Fr. Louie and I were cited and released for trial in federal court at a later date. Fr. Louie already has a court date on Sept 15, so it might be on that date in Santa Barbara. The base commander was not arrested or cited. We appeal to the court of public opinion to evaluate the actions of both parties.

The US is in serious financial difficulties and last night launch wasted millions of dollars. The money was wasted regardless of the success or failure of the test launch.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Why WILPF? Lessons from Emily Greene Balch and Mercedes Randall

I've begun reading an incredible book, Beyond Nationalism: The Social Thought of Emily Greene Balch. I feel a special connection to Ms. Balch, as she was an economics professor at Wellesley, my alma mater. The trustees fired her for her "radical peace activities." The closing of that door allowed her to become WILPF's first secretary general. Her work inspired the creation of Wellesley's Peace & Justice Studies department, which provided me a major and will soon be the employer of Catia Confortini, an amazing member of WILPF.

In any case, back to Emily. Her literary executor, Mercedes M. Randall, edited a volume of her essays and provided an introductory biographical sketch. This is an excerpt from page 32 of that sketch:
Emily Balch gave the best years of her life to the Women's International League for Peace and Freedom, because it stood, as she conceived it, not so much for "peace" with its negative connotations, as for liberation from all that divides and separates men, for reaching out to one another, for building up together.

"Only connect," as E.M. Forster urged. Like Forster, Emily Balch believed first of all in personal relationships as something solid in a world full of violence and cruelty. WIth that as a starting point, order can begin to enter the contemporary chaos. To nourish one's own little light, one's own trembling flame, with the knowledge that it is not the only light shining in the darkness, to keep open a few breathing holes for the human spirit, to try to put Force back into the box where it belongs in order to make room for the great creative energies of mankind, this, for Emily Balch, as for E.M. Forster, meant what it was to be truly civilized and to justify the human experiment.
I remain inspired and emboldened by the precedent set by these two incredible WILPF leaders, Emily and Mercedes. And I urge everyone who agrees with this vision for the future, to join WILPF, and to create liberation through the League.

Saturday, February 27, 2010

Branch Reports at Northern California Cluster Meeting

East Bay / Berkeley: Don't have young members, so invited someone they know to attend a meeting. The young woman said that if an organization doesn't exist on the web, young people don't think it exists. So, the branch built a website. They're also doing a program on white privilege.

Fresno: Gloria, their new president, attending her first cluster meeting gave the report. Two interns from Fresno State, 200 members, weekly film event and many, many activities

Monterey County: monthly meetings, support for labor unions in area hotels, book sale, work in coalition with 27-organization peace coalition in the community

Palo Alto / Peninsula: was formed in 1922 by the wife of the president of Stanford. 4 areas of interest: disarmament, Middle East, health care for all, fair elections. Branch strongly recommend the documentary Stealing America, Vote by Vote; showed the film "A Single Woman," about Jeanette Rankin in coordination with five other organization; one of the founders of Raging Grannies within WILPF as a great way to do outreach. In November, potentially 65 initiatives on the California state ballot.

Pajaro Valley (14 miles between Santa Cruz and Monterey): our branch is on life support. Since September, 2011 did a weekly peace vigil until the end of October, 2009. Participated in an annual exhibit "Mi Casa, Tu Casa." Shed light on history of bracero program in Watsonville to the local community.

Sacramento: attempting to put the branch back together. We're holding regular meetings whether anyone comes or not (4th Sunday of the month). Focusing on Analyzing, Thinking and Planning Strategically.

San Francisco two proposals to the cluster meeting on future regional communications; several activities on the topic of Afghanistan, including a public session with a representative from RAWA

San Jose: Prop 1 Road Tour, full report available on paper

Santa Cruz 250 members, renewal rates strong now that it's included in newsletter address block. Dozens of activities, including two talks by Professor Stephen Zunes on the American invasion of Afghanistan and on Obama's first year.

Sierra Foothills: bring plays to Auburn, including "Women at Ground Zero: Stories of Courage and Compassion." This year they're hosting a play in tribute to Coretta Scott King, "A Song for Coretta."

Updates from Northern Califonria Cluster Meeting

  • SMART campaign planning
  • next National Congress: summer, 2011
  • next international Congress: August, 2011 in San Jose, Costa Rica
  • search for Secretary General almost complete
  • New program being developed to integrate UN advocacy with national and local activities
  • international WILPF's website will have a new URL soon
  • Advancing Women Peacemakers Project, celebrating Jane Addam's 150th birthday and the 10th anniversary of the passing of United Nation Security Council Resolution 1325nited
  • update on national section: Ellen Schwartz, new US Section Treasurer (in the position less than a month). One of her primary goals is sorting out our membership records and ensuring renewal notices go out and accurate lists are available to all branches
  • update from Jane Addams Peace Association: the Jane Addams Children's Book Awards is a great way to promote peace education and expand recognition of WILPF among librarians and parents. Branches can buy sets of the award winners at a discount and donate them to libraries, community centers, and schools. Santa Cruz Branch created bookplates that permanently explain that the books were donated by WILPF.
  • update from Membership Council: a self-organized group of WILPF members from across the country. Concerned about the lack of accurate membership lists. Shared copies of an article that appeared in the Winter, 2009 edition of Peace & Freedom. Update was cut short by additional explanation of the roots of the Advancing Women Peacemakers Project.
  • lunch, followed by Raging Grannies songs
  • presentation of reasons peace activists should be vegans by Paula Rochelle, who coordinated all food for the event

Why WILPF? Why Now?

I am attending the Northern California WILPF Cluster Meeting in Palo Alto. Below is my report on international WILPF.

Last summer, I started a global conversation among WILPFers about the meaning of our organization. Some people took this as a jumping off point for further criticism of the organization, others weighed in with reminders of the purpose of our organization as outlined in our international constitution and by-laws.

Get five WILPFers in a room, and you're bound to end up with ten opinions. I'm not sure we, as members of the League from California, will come to agreement today, but I'd like to offer a forward looking perspective based on my work on the Secretary General Search Committee, my participation in the International Board Meeting in January, and my eleven years of activism in the US Section.

Political advocacy can feel the most relevant when dealing directly with a local issue - for example, a local military recruiter pushing their “college” deals at the local high school; or the local utilities company pushing chemicals into the public water supply. These are extremely legitimate and important issues that must be countered. Through WILPF, we have the ability to tie these local issues to international treaties, like the International Rights of the Child. By connecting to an international sisterhood, we can learn from our sisters overseas, and coordinate our work so that every time we act on a local issue, we know that our sisters in Costa Rica and Japan are struggling with similar concerns, and that together – drop by drop – we will change the way governments enforce international treaties and we'll ensure those international laws are written from a feminist / peace-building perspective.

By nature, I'm a critical person. So I completely understand the instinct to focus on what's wrong and to be critical of the presumed centers of power in WILPF. I also try to understand the desire to support the peace & justice movement in general. And I definitely understand being overwhelmed by all there is to do as volunteers; my own branch has been on life support for several years and I often wonder if I should have been focusing my time re-energizing my branch rather than helping WILPF at the national and international level.

There are ways in which I'm biased. I think we need to learn from good examples and work to strengthen our capacity, through tools like SMART campaign planning and work plans. Next year, we'll have both a national and international Congress and we need to work towards building bridges of cooperation domestically and with our Latin American sisters (and indeed all sections) prior to those meetings.

Several staff members have moved on in the last few months – and soon all of those openings will be filled. Though I consider Susi Snyder among my closest WILPF sisters, I am so excited about the new Secretary General. The Search Committee went through a vigorous process of reviewing resumes and interviewing three finalists. We coordinated Skype calls across three continents – Los Angeles, Sweden, Berlin, and Tokyo. And we recommended a candidate to the Executive Committee who will raise the profile of WILPF internationally and help announce to the world that we are starting a new chapter in our history.

Make no mistake – members are not the only critics of WILPF. At the international level, funders and sister NGOs have already written our epitaph. People have suggested that our highly successful UN projects, Reaching Critical Will and Peace Women should break away from WILPF and become separate NGOs. Thankfully, none of our current leaders agrees with that idea and under the leadership of our incredible UN Office Director Anjie Rosga, the NGO community is beginning to understand how the projects are connected to our organization as a whole. Additionally, she has worked with members and interns to develop a new international program that concretely connects WILPF's UN advocacy with local activism.

As we move closer to our 100th anniversary, it's time to make a choice: it's time to work together, to build a stronger WILPF, to move our institution to the forefront of change, to allow WILPF to lead the way towards a better future. I've been working through WILPF for 11 years because I believe in the power of our women-led organization. I believe that we're stronger together than our individual parts. As exciting as the work of some of your branches is, it is our collective power, as an international league, that gives us our unique strength and promise.

Saturday, February 06, 2010

5 January: Campaign Planning Workshop

The second day of the board meeting began with a communications workshop, presented by Pia Johansson (Swedish Section Information Officer), Susi Snyder (WILPF Secretary General), and me. Prior to the presentation, we had a lot of help from Anjie Rosga, our UN Office Director.

Actually, communications workshop is a misnomer for what we did. Having experience in WILPF, we felt it was important to take a step back and provide a global view of campaigning that we might all agree upon and utilize in the future. Many people are familiar with the SMART acronym (Strategic, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, Timely). First, Pia and Susi provided examples of SMART campaigns from WILPF's work in the recent past. Then, I used a presentation I found on the web as the basis of our explanation of SMART. I also wanted to provide some advice based on my years as the US Section Program Chair, so I added in some key points about why education cannot be the primary goal of a political advocacy campaign. Next, the attendees broke up into small groups to design SMART campaigns around upcoming UN events. Each group reported out to the larger meeting. Susi, Pia, and I provided feedback on their plans and then the group provided feedback on the workshop.

Below is the presentation from the workshop. I've updated the template and added the WILPF logo and posted the presentation on Slideshare.net:

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