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Women and the Struggle for Peace – International Women’s Day 2024

According to the UN, conflict has become the ‘most insurmountable barrier to poverty eradication and sustainable development’. By the end of 2016, ‘War, violence, and persecution worldwide had led to the displacement of 66 million people from their homes. Of these around 22 million were refugees, 40 million were internally displaced, and 3 million were asylum seekers. Children make up about half of the 17 million refugees under the responsibility of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees, and are often deprived of what they need most, including health care and education, safe water, and shelter.’[1]

Women and their children are the first victims of wars and conflict while the arms industry and its political and official endorsers in military industrial complexes benefit. Today the USA has around 750 military bases in 70 countries. 13 bases with 24,000 personnel are based in Britain. Britain has its own military bases in 13 countries.

NATO countries have undertaken to spend 2% of their GDP on military expenditure. The global expenditure on military has been the highest ever, at $75.2 trillion[2].  At a time when poverty is decimating the lives of ordinary people worldwide the export of armaments has been critical to imperialist states. Since the start of the war in Ukraine, February 22, we have seen increased militarism in Europe. The extension of NATO and vociferous calls for increasing military spending in many countries including the UK, are parts of this trend.

The horror unleashed on the civilian population in Gaza by the apartheid regime of Israel since October 22 has been sanctioned by right-wing governments of its ilk. South Africa’s case against Israel in the international court of Justice has left no place for Israel and its appeasers, Biden, Sunak, Starmer and others to hide behind denials of the genocide that is perpetrated by the settler occupier state of Israel.

Israel’s attacks on Lebanon and Syria, and American and British attacks on Yemen are worrying signs of an appetite to expand the war in order to deflect from their own ineptitude.

There must be an immediate ceasefire in Gaza. The Palestinian population that has been taken hostage by the occupier Israeli state must be freed and Israeli civilian who have been held hostage must be freed.

The interference of Iran in conflicts in the region has been dangerous and harmful to the interests of the people in Iran and the middle East. The people of Iran do not need or want war.

The Islamic Republic is run by big commercial capitalism closely interlinked with the country’s security and military apparatus. The neoliberal policies of the regime have led to economic bankruptcy.

The women of Iran have been at the forefront of the recent protest movement, Women, Life, Freedom, for equality and an end to dictatorship. The people of Iran want to be freed from the yoke of regressive and reactionary political Islam. In a clear indication in a recent poll of Iranian people’s attitudes, the majority of the people want the separation of religion from the state.  One of the shining examples of the current anti-dictatorial movement in Iran is the civil resistance of women in various arenas, especially the heroic resistance of political prisoners. With awe-inspiring courage, women prisoners have raised their voices in solidarity with the protests, and condemned gender apartheid, despite the threats to their lives in the regime’s dungeons.  Recently a number of women in Evin prison, issued a statement protesting the execution of four Kurdish political prisoners in the notorious Qezel Hesar prison, demanding an end to executions. The Democratic Organization of Iranian Women salutes the memory of Mahsa and all the girls and women who lost their lives in the popular and anti-dictatorial movement of our country.  We salute the struggle of political and ideological prisoners, the mothers for justice, retirees and teachers, academics, nurses, workers, home makers, students, and others, and believe victory will be ours through a common and organized struggle.  We salute all the women and men who are fighting for equality, peace, and socialism, the world-over, in increasingly difficult conditions.  Long live international solidarity.

[1] World Institute of Peace Research in Stockholm (Sipri) cited in NM 1202

[2] As above