Women have banned the bomb!

History was made on 7 July when nuclear weapons were banned under international law. 122 governments adopted a new treaty at the United Nations making the possession of these horrific weapons of mass destruction illegal, along with other related activities such as testing, using, developing, or assisting with nuclear weapons. The treaty also includes provisions for assisting victims of nuclear weapons use and testing, and environmental remediation. It is the first treaty to recognise the disproportionate impact of nuclear weapons on indigenous people and on women.

WILPF is a vociferous supporter of nuclear abolition, and has been an advocate of the ban since the idea was first conceptualised.

This special edition of Membership News reflects on our involvement in the negotiations of the new convention that took place in New York in June and July. We have gathered here some of the most inspiring pictures showing the mobilisation of WILPFers across the world.

We want to say a big thank you to all WILPF members for your dedication and for making this possible. Now sit back and enjoy this recap!

The Women’s March to Ban the Bomb

While the primary march and rally took place in New York City, there were about 150 diverse solidarity actions all over the world!

WILPF Ghana organised a solidarity event in Accra that included a peace walk and community engagement event. “The beauty of our event lies in the fact that though we were few in numbers, our voice was heard loud.”

WILPF group in Afghanistan created a postcard featuring a strong call to action for a nuclear weapons ban.

Solidarity walks were organised in three regions of Cameroon that generated photos showing a diversity of people standing up for the ban.

There were approximately 20 solidarity actions across the United States, some of which – such as in San Jose, Milwaukee and St Louis – were hosted by WILPF. Women from the WILPF US played a central role with overall coordination of the event, including New York, and either hosted or supported many of the nearly 20 solidarity actions that took place across the country.

WILPF Australia collaborated with ICAN partners on a national day of action that saw solidarity events take place in eight cities. This included marches in BrisbaneSydney, and Adelaide; a rally in Canberra and a vigil in Hobart. More events took place in Darwin and Perth, and the largest was in Melbourne.

In Scotland, there were a total of five events organised by WILPF Scottish Branch and the Scottish Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament.

More activities took place in Bolivia, Canada, Belgium, Denmark, Germany, Italy, Japan, Lebanon, New Zealand, Norway, the Philippines, Spain, Thailand, and across the UK that included meet-ups, marches, seminars, and photo actions.

From action on the streets to advocacy in the conference room

Of course, WILPF’s participation in the negotiations also extended into the UN meeting rooms!

Four WILPF members from Scotland who participated in the Women’s March and the negotiations, also co-hosted a side event presenting the Scottish view on the ban and nuclear weapons more broadly.

“We worked hard and had a great experience with other peace women – and men,” said Janet Fenton. “The whole group appreciated the feminist understanding of disarmament articulated at side events and as included in the final treaty text.”

Gabriella Irsten from WILPF Sweden attended the negotiations, and brought her experience and expertise on disarmament issues to advocate with many participating governments. ” The ban treaty is also bigger than itself. Nuclear weapons symbolises a patriarchal power structure based on threat and violence. With the ban treaty we have managed to challenge the global patriarchal world order that we today see.”

Two members from WILPF Italy were also attending the negotiations in New York representing a vocal civil society movement that in Italy is putting pressure on the Government to participate constructively in the nuclear disarmament process. “The negotiations that led to the adoption of the Treaty gave me the proof of the rightness of what Emily Balch said at WILPF’s Founding Congress in The Hague: Determination is power. And we have exercised this power and will continue to exercise it” said Giovanna Pagani.

What next? 

We must keep up the pressure! The support expressed for the treaty over the last several years continues into this new phase where we will need to work even more closely with states and legislators to join and implement it, including the nuclear-armed states that have so far boycotted this process.

WILPF will continue to be at the forefront of these efforts. Here’s how you can take action:

  • Click here to see how your country voted.
  • If it voted yes, encourage your government to sign the treaty at a high level when it opens for signature in September. Engage with parliamentarians to support the ratification phase that follows signature.
  • If your country did not participate in the talks, or voted against its adoption, keep up the dialogue by pointing to the important impact that this agreement will make.
  • Keep up the writing, tweeting, and other social media pressure! Follow @RCW_ and #nuclearban.

You can read the full blog on our website.

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