Representation dilemma in militaristic societies
Pushing for women to become police officers, soldiers and politicians is wrong in militaristic societies like Israel, maintains Slava Greenberg, project manager and coordinator at the Isha L’Isha organisation. Therefore, in their work they have chosen to ignore certain parts of UN Security Council Resolution 1325.
At a recent women’s conference in Mexico, Slava Greenberg was asked, on behalf of Isha L’Isha, to sign the UN proclamation Say No – Unite, on violence against women. The proclamation is based on Resolution 1325 and stresses the importance of women’s representation at peace talks, within the police and military, and in decision-making positions.
– I’m aware of its importance in other parts of the world – such as in India where peaceful police squads put a stop to violence against women in conflict zones – but such a demand on us would be devastating. We already have women in the police service and army, in most positions normally held by men. This does not correspond in any way to our dream of change. We don’t want the army to exist at all, she says.
Instead she advocates feminist movements using and adapting parts of Resolution 1325 that are most beneficial for their specific work. To further strengthen her line of reasoning she mentions the committee that was appointed to investigate the boarding of the Ship to Gaza convoy. Another women’s organisation has appealed against the composition of the committee to the Supreme Court, demanding that a woman be included in compliance with 1325.
– We had a lengthy discussion on this within Isha L’Isha and decided not to have any part in the appeal, Slava Greenberg explains, and went on to saying that the woman appointed should be somebody with a broad consensus among the Israeli Jewish community or have some form of military experience.
– We don’t think that this committee will change anything, or take any responsibility whatsoever for what happened, she says.
In the early 2000s Isha L’Isha worked intensively to spread awareness of Resolution 1325 in Israeli society through various campaigns. They showed that the conflict has a gender perspective and that women lacked decision-making positions. In 2005 the organisation drew up a shadow report to the UN on the situation of women in Israel and an index of 200 women from different sectors and positions in society in order to highlight the competence that was claimed to be lacking.
– It was during this process that we realised that we were facing a dilemma. Not all women wish to be part of a military environment or to represent Israel at the negotiating table, and not all women have the perspective to promote peace and gender equality. From that moment we began focusing on human security and diverted from the narrow interpretation of Resolution 1325.
This insight led to the organisation arranging an alternative conference together with the Coalition of Women for Peace under the title of “Security for Whom?” during which they presented an alternative to Israel’s military security discourse.
Isha L’Isha no longer sees lobbying and legislation as being effective. Instead they have begun interpreting 1325 in a more flexible manner and have found usable parts of the resolution such as, for example, women in peace movements, women in conflict zones and women’s rights activists, and strive to empower feminists within the framework of civil society. They also shape opinion for their view on representation in relation to appeals, such as the case with Ship to Gaza.
– We believe that there should exist different forms of representation for different women, that diversity among women should be represented so that it is not always the same white upper class women involved, says Slava Greenberg.
In ten years time she hopes for the feminist peace movement to be more visible and for civil society as a whole working towards peace. In order for the alternative view of security that Isha L’Isha stands for to have an impact, she realises that certain insights are required.
– People need to be made aware of the benefits of living in the world that we’re talking about and what they are losing in the current situation. As well as being unnecessary and immoral, the siege of Gaza swallows up resources that could be put to better use in health care and education, says Slava Greenberg.
Isha L’Isha is one of the leading actors against human trafficking in Israel, offers legal advice and psychosocial support to vulnerable women, and are opinion-formers towards the general public and public authorities on issues concerning women’s participation and rights.
Updated in: 2010-10-04