Marissa Conway is the Co-Founder and UK Director of Centre for Feminist Foreign Policy. She previously worked with Freedom House, a safe house for survivors of human trafficking and Living Water, a clean water charity. She is also a freelance writer and publishes pieces on feminist foreign policy, feminism and nuclear weapons, feminist entrepreneurship, and life as a Californian in London. She recently wrote an essay in our new report: A Feminist Nuclear Policy. This is part of a series of interviews in which you can get to know the authors of the essays in this report, A New Vision: Gender. Justice. National Security.
How can nuclear war be avoided?
Ultimately, the only way nuclear war can be avoided is with the total elimination of nuclear weapons. Possessing weapons in any shape or form (I'm looking at you, low-yield nuclear weapons) will always present a risk.
What inspires you to continue this work?
I'm incredibly interested in power dynamics, and particularly those that play out at an international level. I see huge discrepancies between those who are at risk of suffering the consequences of nuclear war and those who are making decisions about nuclear policy. Feminist foreign policy offers an incredibly unique framework to dissect these dynamics and spark structural change to make our world a little more peaceful and equal. It often feels very surreal that I get to help lead this conversation to a degree and do work that sets me on fire, and that's what keeps me going even when I get stretched a little thin.
How can someone support your work?
The Centre for Feminist Foreign Policy is doing wonderful work around rethinking nuclear policy from a feminist perspective. You can join our Membership Programme, beginning at £3 per month, to help support this line of inquiry, or join our closed Facebook group, The Feminist Foreign Policy Network for likeminded people who are as nerdy about feminist foreign policy as we are.
How do you measure progress in this field?
We measure progress in two ways: the first, by ensuring that every conversation around nuclear policy includes at minimum a gender lens. The second is by seeing the number of nuclear weapons reduced as we begin to move toward elimination.
Who inspires you?
I am incredibly taken by Carol Cohn's work. She has carved out space for such feminist inquiry into nuclear policy and continues to blaze a trail for us all.
How do you think including more diverse voices will affect your field of work?
When dealing with the most destructive force on earth we should be onboarding as many different opinions and ideas as we can to design the safest possible nuclear policies. Relegating such impactful decisions to a small group of elites, as is done now, and expecting them to have a comprehensive understanding of the issue is foolhardy. Any actors navigating nuclear policy should make it their mission to be as informed by a variety of life experiences, research, and lessons from history as possible. Nuclear weapons will then no longer be used as tools to manipulate the global hierarchy and power dynamics between states but rather understood for the potential catastrophe they truly represent.
What is the best book you read recently?
The best (and funniest) book I've read recently is "This is Going to Hurt: Secret Diaries of a Junior Doctor" by Adam Kay. It's a highly comical and heartbreaking look at the life of a junior doctor at the NHS and had me in constant stitches.