The 16 days call to action for women's activism explores the structures of violence by defining the intersections of Militarism and violence against women.
The 16 days of activism kicked off all over the world on the 25th of November 2010 with a theme that has a powerful impact on women from all walks of life. The theme speaks to women all over the world and campaigns against the aspect of one person having 'power over another'. The theme for 2010 is; Structures of Violence: Defining the Intersections of Militarism and Violence Against Women.
Militarism can not only be found in different forms but is dominant in most societies around the world. With a motivation of aiming to achieving 'power over another', Militarism has become a strong force amongst societies where violence has become to be grudgingly accepted as a suitable method of resolving conflicts. Even though conflict and the military are seen as men's areas, the impact Militarism has on women is great.
According to Amy Caiazza, in a paper written for the Institute for Womens Policy Research entitled ‘Women, Militarism and Violence,' she discusses issues surrounding women as victims of Militarism, ' Where institutionalized violence and terrorism exist, women are often singled out as targets. Like men, they are victims, innocent bystanders, loved ones of victims, or refugees displaced by war. Because men are more likely to be involved in violence as soldiers and militants, women are more often displaced by their absence.'
Militarism thrives on the acceptance that violence is the only way to solve problems, and with the use of violence, aggression and through the terrifying consequences of military acts, it becomes the norm for settling social economic and political conflicts, which has frightening consequences for the safety and security of women in today's society, and for society as a whole.
Women have become targets to 'winning' a war. According to Lucinda Marshall in an article written for the Global Sisterhood Network in April 2004, she states, ' In many cultures, women are viewed as the possessions of their men. Therefore, when a woman is raped, it is effectively an attack on the “manhood of her man.”...Wo-men become the targets of war in order to attack the honour of the men of a particular culture, ethnic group, or country.'
She continues to state, 'For these reasons, rape and other forms of sexual assault against women are always a part of war and conflict. When women are assumed to be possessions that can be attacked, stolen, and dishonoured, they become a means of “feminizing” and degrading the enemy.' Lucinda draws the parallels between military training and the belittling of women with the use of gender slurs to motivate men to bring out their aggression towards society and towards women.
The mass brutalization and rapes of women in the war torn zone of the Democratic Republic of Congo are testament to this fact, and sexual violence is just one of the ways that women are experience violence with Militarism. Women in the military fare no better; domestic violence against army wives and assaults against female military officers from their male colleagues has become commonplace.
The industry of war and conflict has brought with it many terrible faces. As one of the biggest industries in the world, weapons and other tools of conflict are manufactured and sold to the highest bidder on a mass scale; large investments are made by governments in the national defence forces and in the nation's militaries.
This is usually at the expense of the people in a society, where the amount of money that is spent by governments on equipping the military and on arms and other armaments is far greater than the amount spent on services that could uplift the country's population such as local economic development, education, provision of employment, women empowernment, education and health care services.
It is for this reason that the 16 days of activism wishes to address the aspect of Militarism and the effect it has on women in society. Is it of vital importance to address all the forms of violence against women; it has become so rife in today's society that even during times of peace women have none.