International Gathering of the Women and Peoples of the Americas against Militarization
(Translated by Rich Henighan, a CSN Volunteer Translator)
Colombia, August 16-23, 2010
"My body is my house, my house is my homeland.
I don't turn over the keys!"
From August 16 to 23, 2010 in Colombia "The International Gathering of the Women and Peoples of the Americas against Militarization" will be held. It aims to denounce the growing militarism on the continent and make visible its negative impact on the lives of women and communities.
The Gathering is an opportunity to review and articulate different paths for resistance of women and their communities at a local, national and international level. It is a setting for those who share the responsibility for the defense of the sovereignty of communities and of the right of women to live a life free of violence.
This Gathering is occurring in the context of the recent signing of a "Cooperation Agreement on Security and Defense" between the governments of Colombia and the United States in 2009. This accord institutionalizes the presence of US military and contracted forces in seven military bases on Colombian territory. These personnel will enjoy diplomatic immunity, remaining outside the control of national or foreign laws, despite the history of abuses which have been documented in different countries and situations where there have been foreign troops.
Why the Gathering?
Throughout history, military cooperation in our hemisphere has promoted the career of the armament manufacturers, led to the creation of non-state armed groups, and sharpened internal armed conflicts, increased violations of human rights and of violence in general, all as part of a strategy of despoiling our homeland and our natural resources.
Militarization manifests the patriarchal model which submits women and their homelands to the logic of domination through force of arms, allotting to itself a good part of the resources of our countries.
For example, according to a report from The Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI), in 2009 the US dedicated $661 Billion to military expenses, Brazil $26.1 Billion, Colombia, $10 Billion, Mexico $5.49 Billion, Chile $5 Billion and Venezuela $3.254 Billion. In Lat
in America, Colombia dedicated the largest percentage of its GNP to military expenses, 3.7%, according to the same SIPRI report. A study from 2008 revealed that 80 of each 100 public functionaries of the country were employed in work related to defense or security*. In the 2010 national budget, one billion pesos less are to be spent for education than for defense and security.
For almost fifty years, the Colombian government has preferred a military solution in a war that has cost the civilian population the highest price in human lives and has had a special impact on women. More than 50% of the displaced are women who have had to assume work, household and family responsibilities as consequences of the forced displacement. It is also common that, in this context of armed conflict, acts of violence are carried out, principally against women, expressed as physical, psychological, and sexual aggression, domestic and sexual slavery, forced prostitution, forced pregnancies and forced abortions. Social control is thus wielded over their lives in public and private by the different armed actors, both legal and illegal.
The Military Accord, signed between the governments of the US and Colombia in November, 2009, is a new factor deepening the social and armed conflict which has differential impacts on women, threatens national sovereignty and constitutes a hostile gesture towards the Latin American countries which have undertaken an alternative model for society.
*Isaza, Jose Fernando, Campos, Diogenes, Quantitative considerations about the recent evolution of the conflict, 2009
How is the Gathering going to be organized?
The Gathering's schedule is divided into three parts:
August 16-20: A Humanitarian Mission: 200 international delegates, men and women, will visit five regions of Colombia.
August 21-22: Gathering-Debate with the participation of 1000 national and international delegates, men and women, on themes of:
1. Woman, Homeland and Development
2. Woman, War, Peace and Democracy
3. Woman and Social Movements
4. Resistance experiences from the social movements of the Americas: Honduras, Bolivia, Ecuador, Venezuela, and Colombia.
August 23: Vigil for Life with about 10,000 delegates from Colombia and all the Americas participating.
How to Participate?
To join in advance, contact the office of the Feminist Popular Organization at (57)
3105776921 or (57 7) 6467963
Or Contact us at:
on Facebook: Encuentro MujeresyPueblos
on Twitter: MujeresyPueblos
The Social Movement of Women against War and for Peace: email@example.com +57 7 646 88 69, Colombia
Feminist Popular Organization: firstname.lastname@example.org +57 7 646 79 63, Colombia
Worldwide March of Women: email@example.com +55 11 3032- 3243, Brazil