This week's editor

Rosemary Belcher-2.jpg

Rosemary Bechler is openDemocracy’s Editor.

Constitutional conventions: best practice

Holier than thou?: The anti-imperialist versus the local activist

Local gender activists in the Arab world face both censure from their own societies, and attacks by US-based anti-imperialist scholars who charge them with complicity with western imperialist designs.

The masculinisation of complexity

You would think a peace movement would be the least patriarchal of all social movements but you can masculinise anything. Feminist understanding challenges what it really takes to make peace.

World disarmament? Start by disarming masculinity

Massive world military spending is driven by the profit motive of the arms industry and politicians’ weaponized notion of ‘security’. But women peace activists also hold militarized masculinity to account.

There are more of us who want peace than want the killing to continue

The ‘utopian’ slur against peacemakers is defeatist propaganda for pro-war, pro-militarisation and securitisation interests and the military-industrial complex. Marion Bowman reports from WILPF's Centenary Conference in the Hague.

A new narrative on human rights, security and prosperity

It’s up to us to ‘reframe the narrative’ of development, to move beyond the historic thrust of capital and war and to say no impunity for the murder of Indigenous women. Jennifer Allsopp reports from WILPF's Centenary Conference in the Hague.

The pacifist dilemma: women peacemakers’ responses to Islamic State

Can non-violent strategies defeat the new fascism of Islamic State and its allies? Women peace makers’ hopes and doubts recall the rift in the peace movement when Nazism threatened Europe.

Speaking truth to power at the UN

"This may be the last time our voice is heard here…" excerpt from the Women's International League for Peace and Freedom Statement to the UN‘s Conference on Disarmament. WILPF's centeranry conference opens today in the Hague.

Women's power to stop war: rereading Virginia Woolf

Three Guineas was published in 1938 but it remains startlingly relevant. War will not end while women are kept out of power and while power is governed on the historic terms that men established.

How land rights are politicising Cambodia's women

Land grabbing and forced evictions have created an activist movement among women who traditionally conform to strict gender roles.

Security is not just CCTV: valuing ourselves is security

It feels as if the entire world has been given over to the most perverse notions of 'safety'  that are really about death and destruction, cruelty and conflict, grandiosity and greed. Marion Bowman reports from the Nobel Women’s Initiative conference in the Netherlands.

Iraq's female citizens: prisoners of war

Iraqi woman human rights defender Yanar Mohammed spoke to Jennifer Allsopp at the Nobel Women’s Initiative conference about grass-roots responses to the atrocities women are facing under ISIS.

Women human rights defenders: reigniting the embers

The profile of today’s front line activist is different to that of the freedom fighter of old. We need to see her in her wholeness. Jennifer Allsopp reports from the Nobel Women’s Initiative conference in the Netherlands.

Mairead Maguire: breaking the silence on Palestine

Palestinian women human rights defenders and peace makers, in resisting the injustices being perpetrated upon their people, deserve our support and we must each do what we can to break the silence.

Creating peace: a manifesto for the 21st century

How does an international women’s organisation with a hundred year history put Mahatma Gandhi’s famous call to action into practice in 2015? Marion Bowman reports from the centenary congress of WILPF

Defending the Defenders: a daunting challenge

Women human rights defenders are under attack. The Nobel Women's Initiative conference convenes today to deepen the understanding of the risks, and to develop strategies to strengthen efforts to defend the defenders.

Violence is not inevitable: It is a choice

In 1915 a thousand women met in the Hague to demand an end to war. A thousand women are doing so again this week. It is time the women were heard and their vision shared.

Women human rights defenders: protecting each other

With the continued failure of the UN to implement the Declaration on Human Rights Defenders twenty years after it was passed, women human rights defenders are still their own best support and protection network.   

Awaiting justice: Indigenous resistance in the tar sands of Canada

The Nation of the Lubicon Cree is on the frontlines of environmental destruction, as it challenges the forces behind resource extraction and environmental and cultural genocide, and seeks justice for all.

Mairead Maguire: walking for peace between North and South Korea

Last month the North Korean government gave its permission for an international women's peace walk across the demilitarized zone which separates it from South Korea. The women are waiting to hear the South Korean government's decision. 

"It starts with us": Breaking one of Canada's best kept secrets

A coalition of women human rights defenders in Canada is demanding an end to state complicity, and a culture of impunity in the genocidal violence against Indigenous women, girls, and two-spirited people.

Why we need a feminist foreign policy to stop war

Feminist foreign policy is au courant, but what does it mean in practice? Foreign policy informed by feminist analysis must confront masculine hegemonies in state military-industrial complexes that fuel and fund conflicts.

Iranian women human rights defenders: challenges and opportunities

If President Rouhani honours his promises and 'de-securitises' the general atmosphere, the work of women human rights defenders could lead to significant and tangible change towards ensuring human rights for Iranian citizens.

Shelters without walls: women building protective infrastructures against rape

Women from Colombia, Syria, Nicaragua and Iraq are implementing multi-layered prevention strategies in their communities against rape being used as a weapon of war, offering immediate protection and countering stigma.

Debating the long and the short-term view of sexual violence in war

Sexualized violence is an issue of security.  It is also an issue of women’s equality and rights. It's imperative that we use the traction generated by UN Security Council resolutions to move forward.

Hidden women human rights defenders in the UK

Without recognising the work of women who seek to protect human rights domestically, the UK government risks seeing the activist’s role as a stage of international development rather than as a core function of democracy. 

Our Lives: Poverty then and now in the UK

A report launched today, Our Lives: Challenging attitudes to poverty in 2015, captures the humanity of the experience of poverty and calls for change as radical as the social reform in the 1940s.

Violence compared: rape in Turkey and India

There are striking similarities in the responses to rape and murder cases of women in India and Turkey: a predilection for punitive measures without addressing the root causes of violence.

Ending the humiliation of women in Northern Ireland

Women demanding democratic participation in Northern Ireland's peace process are using human rights principles to confront the hostility and exclusion they face from those in control of decison-making structures.

The personal is political: the journey of a feminist slogan

All successful slogans are subject to misappropriation: it is a sign of their success. The personal is political – but mind the gap.

Scrapping Trident: the holistic approach

This is a key moment in the long history of nuclear disarmament in the UK, and Nicola Sturgeon's tactics place women’s critical voice firmly in the debate.

"I am one of those foreigners": living with HIV in the UK

HIV is easily treatable with pills. But there are no pills for stigma. Stigma grows on the ignorance behind the statement by UKIP's leader Nigel Farage. There is no substance behind his words.

Men in charge? Rethinking authority in Muslim legal tradition

The new book Men in Charge? shows that the assumption that God gave men authority over women is a theological fiction that became a legal fiction, whose main function now is to sustain gender inequality. 

The gender wars in Turkey: a litmus test of democracy?

The pent up fury and grief released by Özgecan Aslan’s attempted rape and gruesome murder reveal deep fault lines and simmering sources of disaffection in Turkish society.

Building "a new Turkey": gender politics and the future of democracy

Can Turkey's government eschew gender equality, demonise the country's dynamic women's movement, and still prevent gender-based violence? Can a party that rejects gender equality be a force for democratisation?

This is what a feminist foreign policy looks like

Margot Wallström’s decision not to sell arms to Saudi Arabia demonstrates the fundamental rethink needed to achieve a feminist foreign policy. Herein lies women's power to stop war. 

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