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Raising our political voice.

Welcome to the Spring 2008 issue of Peace & Freedom. We hope you enjoy reading about the rich work being done locally, nationally and internationally to create a culture of peace and justice. You might wonder what brings such disparate issues under the same umbrella; after all, most advocacy organizations have one focus--either environmental issues like "water as a human right" or geo-political issues like "U.S. policy on Israel and Palestine." WILPF is our activist home because we recognize that issues of war and peace are intricately connected to gender, racial, social, environmental and economic justice.

On a national level, we have two campaigns--Save the Water, and Women Challenge U.S. Policy: Building Peace on Justice in the Middle East. Our committees include Disarm: Dismantle the War Economy, Advancing Human Rights/CEDAW, Building the Beloved Community, Corporations v. Democracy, Cuba and Haiti. WILPF U.S. also has two representatives to the United Nations, and a Rapid Response committee, which responds to issues outside the purview of our campaigns and committees. These groups produce advocacy materials for our local branches that are available on our website. They also issue action alerts, responding to events of immediate concern. You can read more about their activity in the following pages.

The women who lead these entities research and advocate many important areas, from implementing human rights law to challenging U.S. foreign policy. Our former staff members were a tremendous asset to our organization. They helped manage our diverse organization, communicated with members, implemented petition drives and ran the office--among numerous other responsibilities. While we regret that our financial reality necessitated laying off our national staff, this issue of Peace & Freedom demonstrates that WILPF's national program has not stagnated. Indeed, members have stepped up their involvement to ensure that WILPF remains focused on building our membership and political voice to create the paradigm shift needed to dismantle the patriarchal, racist and belligerent power structure we currently live in.

This is the very heart of WILPF: building on each individual member's passion for social justice. It is the collective, women-led nature of our organization that makes us unique and powerful within the global advocacy community. Sometimes, we don't communicate the underpinnings of our multi-issue organization because we're busy advocating for a particular issue. We should be mindful about consistently connecting our work for peace with our unique, global women's membership organization.

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Beginning with the 30th Triennial Congress in Des Moines this June, our program structure will be more fluid, allowing us the flexibility to both respond to political realities and continue our work for systemic change.

Recognizing that our members are focused on a multitude of issues, our section's Program Committee will work to support both national issue committees and local branch activism. More details on this structural change will be presented at the Triennial Congress.

As a student of Peace and Justice Studies at Wellesley College, I learned that a solid structural foundation is the cornerstone to long-term, systemic change. I have enjoyed the opportunity to help WILPF become a stronger organization that supports its members. As program chair, I focused on building links between our program entities and broadcasting their work, both within our membership and beyond. It has been my pleasure to serve on the national board for the last two terms and I'm looking forward to reserving more of my activist time for blogging and local organizing.

In addition to being WILPF U.S. Program Chair, C.J. Minster is Co-Convener, International WILPF Communications Committee, a Y-WILPFer and a member of the Los Angeles branch board. She blogs at www.socialupheaval.com.

By C.J. Minster, Program Chair, WILPF U.S.
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Author:Minster, C.J.
Publication:Peace and Freedom
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Mar 22, 2008
Words:613
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