2011 U.S. WILPF Congress

NCC Congress Workshops: Special Reports

Focused on the End War theme, the Triennial Congress offered a provocative list of workshops that responded to the Opening Plenary challenge that “ending war means ending everything that causes or results from war.”  Workshop topics such as Gender Responsive Budgeting, End War against Workers, Water for Life, Not for Profit, The Audacity of Hope in the Middle East: Advancing Peace and Human Rights, Nuclear Free Future, Telling our Stories – Supporting our Mission, and Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan: Ending These Wars, among many others enabled participants to explore WILPF’s multi-issue agenda towards establishing sustainable peace. See articles below for NCC Workshop “Special Reports.”


Gender Sensitive Budgeting Workshop
Bring the War $$$ Home and Let the People Decide

Laura Roskos and Nancy Price facilitated a timely Gender Sensitive Budgeting (GSB) Workshop.  On May 24th, WILPF, as a member of the National Council of Women’s Organizations (NCWO), was included in a letter to Pres. Obama that the concerns of women be considered in budget deficit talks. Now, on Monday, June 20, the U. S. Conference of Mayors approved a resolution calling for an accelerated end to the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. It’s time for WILPF women to speak out about how these $$$ will be spent. It’s part of WILPF’s herstory.

Jane Addams, along with her work for peace and at Chicago’s Hull House, for decades worked with  Eleanor  Roosevelt, Frances Perkins, first woman Secretary of Labor, and others to tirelessly advocate for “mothers’ pensions, widows’ benefits, old-age security, workers’ compensation, and unemployment insurance” (Blanche Wiesen Cook, Eleanor Roosevelt, vol 2, p. 247).  From FDR on, Congress passed legislation to meet these needs that now the right-wing is trying to dismantle.

At the 1995 UN Fourth Conference on Women in Beijing, China, Jane Midgley, former WILPF US Executive Director founded the Women’s Budget Project and held citizens’ hearings around the country on budget and economic policies and to develop alternatives. Work on women’s budgets has taken off around the world. Midgley’s Women and the U.S. Budget: Where the Money Goes and What You Can Do About It (2005) is a plan for action.
WILPF women can join with others to say “Let the People Decide” and:


Labor Workshop – WAR AGAINST WORKERS

North Carolina Triangle Branch take local action!

End War against Workers, Public Employees, and Labor Unions focused on the savage and well organized corporate assault against worker organizations and unions to assure the elimination of any countervailing power to growing corporate domination of our social and political lives.  Our purpose was to put L for Labor back on the WILPF program agenda, and to counter the corporate threat by connecting to labor struggles in our local communities and sharing organizing stories, coalition strategies, and the outcomes of recent campaigns the WILPF Triangle Branch had been involved in.

One such effort was The Farm Labor Organizing Committee and its broad campaign against RJ Reynolds Tobacco Company. Narrated by Nick Wood, FLOC organizer and strategist, the story focuses on how broad coalitions built among faith, labor and social justice organizations resulted in boycotts and pressure on RJ’s major international stockholder.  In addition, FLOC used stock purchases to build shareholder power to embarrass RJ and draw attention to the abusive work conditions tolerated in Reynolds’ tobacco fields. Other member stories were shared from around the country, as well as organizing strategies, such as:

  • how to use international and national labor rights conventions, protocols, legislation, political action;
  • how WILPF Branches are connecting to local labor organizations to challenge cuts to public services, schools, health care, environmental protection, increasing unemployment (and underemployment), and the massive transfer of wealth to the richest citizens and corporations and their increasing control of elections.

A Labor Issue Committee has been proposed, and all workshop participants signed up! We welcome others to join by contacting workshop facilitator: Miriam Thompson, (917) 825-0884.


Save the Water: "Water for Life, Not for Profit"Move to Amend Map
At Congress,  Resolution #5: “Expand WILPF’s Environmental Platform" proposed by the Save the Water Issue Group passed almost unanimously - 58 out of 63 in favor. Now the work begins.

  • First,  the “Save the Water” listserve is open for communication among all those who wish to connect with and be a part of this Issue Group.  We can share ideas and “how to” experiences as we work together to shape work on this new environmental platform. Click here to view and sign up for our listserve.
  • Second, the Resolution states we will include, for example, climate crisis, environmental trespass by corporations, nuclear and other waste, food sovereignty, support for sustainable and organic agriculture and healthy food systems. With this expansion, we invite all who want to work on one of these subjects to contact us via the listserve, writing Save the Water in the subject line.
  • Third, the materials presented at the Congress workshop, Water Justice stories, and lists of Books, Films, and Resources will be posted soon on the website. The water justice stories are part of a mapping project to show where in the U.S. and internationally, communities are fighting back against water privatization.


Welcome to Save the Water: Jean Hay, Lib Hutchby, Nancy Munger, Linda Park, Nancy Price, and Randa Solick
Photo by Rick Raymond

“Expand WILPF’s Environmental Platform"
Water issues - water as a human right, public need for upgraded infrastructure, corporate attempts to privatize drinking water systems - are part of larger pressing environmental problems. WILPF will expand our national issue group to include, for example, climate crisis, environmental trespass by corporations, nuclear and other waste, food sovereignty, support for sustainable and organic agriculture and healthy food systems - all intertwined with economic justice issues and global activist movements. WILPF should increase our cooperation with existing international environmental movements.       We will  expand our water issues group both in terms of other environmental justice considerations and in terms of the number of members needed to be effective in this work.     


The Audacity of Hope in the Middle East: Advancing Peace & Human Rights

The ME workshop was very well attended with some 30+ people. In accord with the 2011 Congress theme, an “End Wars” lens was used to analyze important issues within the Middle East, understanding that such issues are common to all war.  Under this rubric, we categorized our discussions under headings that are universal to all wars  - Land, Water, Security, and Power and Privilege vs. Human Rights -  and that need to be dealt to “End War”. On each topic we opened the floor to the wisdom of the participants who shared their knowledge freely. It was very lively.

The topics reviewed were:

  • Sharing land: Our workshop examined land partition, the building of the wall over Palestinian land, the demolitions of Palestinian houses, settlers moving in the occupied territories in violation of International laws, refugee camps, and the siege of Gaza. Discussions ensued around the possible outcomes of one state, two states, virtual states or confederacy or other models.
  • Sharing water: Participants discussed Israel’s excessive use of water for growing crops, and the creation of swimming pools, while Palestinian trees are uprooted and Palestinian people are denied access to clean water - even the traditional means of water collection from roof tops or cisterns is not allowed. We looked at where water reserves are located and acknowledged that future wars will be fought because of water.
  • Security: The group acknowledged that the building of the "Apartheid wall" was intended more for land grab rather than for providing Israel  with a "security wall" for Israel. Participants further noted that Israel remains a leading arms producing nation, while Palestine does not even have an army. A tour organized by Israel WILPF takes visitors an allowed breach in the wall where Israelis pick up Palestinian laborers to work in Israeli fields. We spoke of the attention given to Israel's “need” for security, noting that few speak about security for Palestinians, or the siege of Gaza and the destruction of its infrastructure.
  • Power and Privilege vs. Human Rights: Workshop participants analyzed US Policy towards the ME and reviewed current lobbying efforts. Odile Hugonot Haber reported briefly on Move Over AIPAC  action in Washington. Libby Frank spoke about the power of the Israel lobby- made up of AIPAC members, the armament lobby, and the “Christian Right.” We discussed the
    growth of the  Jewish Voices for Peace and J Street. Participants reviewed different BDS campaigns and their effectiveness. We also spoke briefly about the U.S. decision to boycott the Durbin III Conference against racism because of anti-Semitic allegations. Barbara Taft introduced a number of resources on UN Resolutions concerning the Middle East that the ME Committee hopes to explore as a means of holding our governments more accountable for the policies in the region. 

Our future work will focus on;

Short Term goals

  1. Support U.S. activists on the boat to Gaza called the "Audacity of Hope" by asking members to call upon the State Department to ensure safe passage for US citizens. (To send a Letter to Pres. Obama requesting that he ensure the safe passage of the U.S. activists on the boat to Gaza, click here.)
  2. In September, a Palestinian State will likely be declared and we will support this declaration.

Long Term goals

  1. Work on the establishment of a Nuclear Free Zone in the Middle East (resolution passed).
  2. Support the work of the Israeli and Palestinian section around UN SC R1325. Work to bring women to the peace table and make evident women's wisdom and knowledge in envisioning and building a new US Foreign Policy in the ME.
  3. Coordinate ME work with the water campaign, the disarmament committee, advancing human rights and building the beloved community.
  4. Continue to support the Israeli section in their development of the web site: "Who Profits from the Occupation" and shows corporate complicity.

Nearly all participants in attendance expressed excitement to challenging the big issues identified in the ME workshop. To learn more or join the ME Issue Committee contact Chairs, Odile or Barbara. A conference call to organize WILPF ME Committee work will be set up soon!


DISARM!

Dismantle the War Economy Issue Committee came out of the Triennial WILPF Congress ready to go!* Seven of the WILPF Leadership Team were present and decided to continue  prioritizing a *Nuclear Free Future.* The two major emphases now will be

(i.) abolition of both nuclear weapons and the pursuance of nuclear power; and
(ii.) carbon free energy future. 

We are forming two cluster working groups. The Committee also welcomes those working on other links in the nuclear chain: ending uranium mining (especially on Native American lands); exposing the dangers of MOX and of developing a plutonium based economy; threats to women's reproductive systems and to our children; threats to our rivers, ground water, air  and soil;  nuclear waste sites; depleted uranium, etc. Notify nffchairs@wilpf.org if you want to join either major group, work on another link in the nuclear chain or have questions and need more information. In addition, DISARM  will continue to support those working on the Mil-Corp ConneXion, on moving the money from weapons to human rights and human needs, space demilitarization, strengthening the Bioweaopns Convention and on other aspects of disarmament and the arms trade.  The Committee works primarily with WILPF Reaching Critical Will at the United Nations, but also with the Progressive Caucus and our friends in Congress -- and seek to educate those who still act our of ignorance. To join in any of this work or subscribe to WILPF EYE on Congress also contact "nuclear free future" at nffchairs@wilpf.org.


TELLING OUR STORIES – SUPPORTING OUR MISSION

“What does telling our stories have to do with fundraising?”  This was the first question asked after our presentation.  The answer?  Everything.  The one most effective and efficient way to support WILPF is to ask for support up close and personal; telling our story, your own story and, most importantly, listening to the donor’s story. Our workshop began with Dr. Catia Confortini’s informative and insightful research into the dynamic women she interviewed who facilitated a change in direction for WILPF.  Robin Lloyd then brought to life her own grandmother’s story, Lola Maverick Lloyd, who was on the 1915 peace boat to the Hague, giving the audience an avenue to tell their individual WILPF stories later on.  The presentation turned to the pragmatic and valuable work of gathering oral histories, which Judy Adams discussed with enthusiasm and long experience. All attendees received a 2 pg. handout and a 40 page “Guidelines” document for planning a branch oral history project to be completed for WILPF’s 100th anniversary. Judy talked briefly about how her branch used the oral histories for membership events and fundraising, as well as for the historical record. The last segment was dedicated to “Lighting the Way – Your WILPF Legacy,” the JAPA Ann Chalmers Pendall Planned Giving campaign.  The JAPA co-president, Sandy Silver (stepping in for Mary Hanson Harrison), showed the recent DVD of interviews of WILPF women who gave their reasons
and life experience as examples for all WILPFers to leave a legacy for the future generations to carry on our work.


Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan: Ending These Wars

Twenty two people participated in the workshop on Ending the Wars in Afghanistan, Iraq and Pakistan. Kathy Kelly, founder of Voices for Creative Nonviolence and frequent visitor of the countries at war, co-facilitated the workshop. The current situation in Afghanistan was discussed, with special attention given to how the war effects the Afghan people -  their losses, despair, and continuing struggle for sovereignty and justice. They would like the US/NATO troops, advisors, and mercenaries to leave. Reflecting on Pakistan, we included maps and showed how the oil pipeline routes make Pakistan strategically important in the region. Participants wanted to understand how to take action here in the U.S. to “End these Wars”.  It was proposed that we support all Congressional initiatives that call for removal of troops. As a group we committed to calling our Senators and Representatives continually, writing letters, and vigiling / demonstrating locally, as WILPF and with other anti war groups. To learn more about the work of the End Wars Issue Committee, contact Marge Van Cleef, co-chair End the Wars Issue Committee.

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