Feminists for Nuclear Disarmament
Perspectives on Peace
Just over 75 years ago, the United States (US) dropped two nuclear bombs on Japan – one on the city of Hiroshima, one on Nagasaki. The bombs, with their blast, fire, and ionising radiation, immediately incinerated hundreds of thousands of people, plants, animals, and buildings. By the end of 1945, 140,000 people had lost their lives. And the bombs’ radiation has caused the harm to be felt for generations.
Despite knowing their catastrophic effects, certain nuclear-armed state officials and academics still point to nuclear weapons as important tools of “security”. This perspective willfully overlooks how, for nearly a century, nuclear weapon activities have contaminated land and water and have disproportionately endangered and harmed the lives of many of the world’s most marginalised populations – particularly Indigenous and economically disadvantaged communities.
In 1999, WILPF formalised its focus on anti-nuclear activism with the launch of our disarmament programme, also known as Reaching Critical Will (RCW). For over two decades, RCW has been working to undo the nuclear way of thinking – better described as nuclearism.
Ray Acheson, RCW’s Programme Director, calls nuclearism “‘an epic feat of gaslighting”’ upheld by academics, politicians, and bureaucrats who profit from the unconscionable investments made in technologies of massive violence and destruction.
In 2020, WILPF and its partners in the fight for the elimination of nuclear weapons celebrated a historic milestone: the ratification of the UN’s landmark Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons (TPNW), which will come into effect on 22 January 2021. The TPNW prohibits the use, possession, and development of nuclear weapons and marks a major step forward for the global peace movement.
On 6 August – the anniversary of the Hiroshima bombing – WILPF members around the world lit up lanterns in the night and let them float down streams of water as a silent reminder of all the lives lost on the same day 75 years ago.
Other moments of remembrance that day included a peace concert organised by WILPF Netherlands at the Peace Palace in the Hague and a camphor tree planted by US WILPFers at the Peace Garden of California State University. At the heart of our efforts was the understanding that on the road to abolition, we must centre the perspectives and experiences of atomic bomb survivors (hibakusha).
On 9 August, the Nagasaki anniversary, WILPF members and disarmament activists collectively delivered a statement against nuclear weapons.
In addition, WILPF Cameroon organised a workshop to urge Cameroon to ratify the TPNW and WILPF Finland sent an open letter to the government asking it to sign and ratify the TPNW.
It’s time to move the money
Our anniversary campaign sought to raise awareness of the absurd amount of money that is currently invested into nuclear weapons, and advocate for better uses of it.
We asked WILPF members how this money could be better spent and received an inspiring array of responses. Many of our members also used WILPF’s social media toolkit to share graphics online on nuclear spending.
Uniting our voices for nuclear abolition
When the TPNW comes into effect in 2021, we will be one step closer to a future of feminist peace. But our work is far from over: together with WILPFers, activists, and allies all over the world, we will continue to fight for an end to the very existence of nuclear weapons – and for the right of all people to live free from the threat of the unimaginable violence witnessed by the world 75 years ago.