Right now, there is tremendous action happening across the country and around the world to advance women’s rights, human rights, and the right to a safe and secure future for all. But that future will not be realized as long as the fields of national security and foreign policy continue to be dominated by men who place an outsized emphasis on militarized responses to the world’s problems.
When Donald Trump was elected President, the ground shifted dramatically beneath all of us. In the face of new policies that are challenging our very identify and safety, people across the country and across issues are rallying together – especially women and people of color. People are mobilizing at unprecedented levels. And there may be a window for change opening up.
Today, we are facing an exceptional opportunity to truly transform our thinking and advance our policies towards a saner, safer world free from the threat of nuclear weapons.
People are now more deeply concerned about nuclear weapons than they’ve been in decades. Weapons that many thought had been relegated to history are back, and they’re threatening our lives in very personal ways.
With increased public awareness of nuclear threats and growing energy around the Women’s Marches, #MeToo movement, the open letter from 200+ women in national security, and the many conversations rippling across the national security and foreign policy communities, we believe we have a two- to four-year window to fundamentally transform the thinking and advance national security and foreign policies.
Now is the time to embed feminist thinking and diverse perspectives into our policy making, think tanks, media, leaders, and emerging leaders. Now is the time to challenge our policy makers to move away from paradigms that place force and nuclear weapons at the center of our safety. Now is the time to step boldly toward a vision that is human-centered, promotes diplomacy, and calls for more just, effective and peace-oriented policies.
Over the next two election cycles, we must make sure that the women and men elected to make decisions about our safety and future have already committed to this vision and know that this vision is widely supported.
To do this, we must build a network of women from both inside and outside the nuclear security field – women who can create and advocate for a new and inclusive national security and foreign policy platform. This network needs to learn from and support each other, push our collective thinking, and call for a more just and secure world for all.
Women are not new to this issue.
Ploughshares Fund and the nuclear abolition movement have long engaged women as active participants calling for the elimination of nuclear weapons – from our founder Sally Lilienthal, to our Mother’s Day for Peace Campaign, to our 2016 Women in Global Security event featuring high profile women national security experts.
Throughout our 35 years, Ploughshares Fund has supported many women and women led projects and organizations. But we need to do more.
When we were founded in 1981, there was no road map to achieve our mission. At the height of the Cold War, our strategy was to find and support the smartest people with the best ideas to get rid of nuclear weapons. We took risks. We made seed grants, and slowly navigated our way into the allusive field of nuclear weapons and nuclear policy.
Over the years, we also discovered that targeted grantmaking and coordinated efforts – at just the right moment – can have a big impact.
We made significant progress toward our goal. And we knew that even if it took decades, the arc of history was bending in the right direction, toward a time when nuclear weapons would no longer exist.
But right now, that progress is at risk. We will not stand idly by and watch this administration, or any administration, reverse the decades of progress we have fought so hard to achieve. We will not let this moment pass without capturing lasting change.
As we stand together this International Women’s Day, calling for gender parity and inclusive practices, let’s make sure we call for parity and inclusion in the national security and foreign policy communities as well.
Let’s press for progress toward a world without nuclear weapons. Join us in building a safer, more just tomorrow.
Photo: Women's March on Washington, showing "just a subset of the huge number of participants showing what democracy looks like. The Women's March looked like America." Taken on January 21, 2017. Flickr / Mobilius in Mobili (cc)