ON THE EVE OF THE GATHERING OF THE HEADS OF STATE FROM THE UNITED STATES, France, Italy, Canada, the United Kingdom, Japan, Germany, and Russia (the “G8”1) in Okinawa in July 2000, a group of Okinawan women hosted an international meeting of women to strategize about women’s responses to globalization and militarization. The International Women’s Summit to Redefine Security was held in Naha and drew women from Okinawa, Japan, South Korea, the Philippines, the United States, and Puerto Rico. Following their summit, the women issued a statement:
The purpose of this meeting was to challenge the principle of ‘national security’ on which the economic policies of the G8 are based. These economic policies can never achieve genuine security. Rather, they generate gross insecurity for most peoples of the world and devastate the natural environment. These economic policies are inextricably linked to increasing militarization throughout the world. Militaries reap enormous profits for multinational corporations and stockholders through the development, production and sale of weapons of destruction. Moreover, militaries maintain control of local populations and repress those who oppose the fundamental principles on which the world economic system is based. (East Asia-U.S. Women’s Network Against Militarism 2000)
The statement sent two messages. First, national security interests do little for women in East Asia and the United States. Instead, principles of “national security” provide the rationale for an increased global militarization that privileges profit over people. In doing so, the global militarized economy breeds deep insecurity by increasing the economic and environmental vulnerability of local communities, particularly that of women and children. Second, women resisting the presence of U.S. militarism in their
respective communities were organizing across national borders to put forth alternative frameworks for global security and sustainability. Challenging the traditional paradigms of “security,” the women instead assert a framework of security based on the following four key tenets (Reardon 1998):
• The environment in which we live must be able to sustain human and natural life;
• People’s basic survival needs for food, clothing, shelter, health care, and education must be met;
• People’s fundamental human dignity and respect for cultural identities must be honored; and
• People and the natural environment must be protected from avoidable harm.