Questions about government spending on war and importance of student voices in politics were discussed last Thursday by a panel of four women associated with Women’s Action for New Direction.
WAND, an organization empowering women to reduce militarism and redirect funds to human and environmental needs, encourages women’s leadership in public policy.
The panel consisted of Mills Professor Margo Okazawa-Rey, Atlanta WAND members, Bobbie Ren and Cicely Gay and sophomore Alix Jerinic, who is part of Organizing Mills and STAND, Students Acting for New Direction.
The United States’ role as a peace maker was one of the questions raised by the panel, as well as militarism creating misogyny and the importance of the individual and activism.
Gay said the United States spends 52 percent of its budget on the military and 10 percent on education.
“It’s like someone making $30,000 a year and spending $15,000 on a home security system,” she said.
Gay also spoke about President George W. Bush taking funds from the No Child Left Behind Act to fund a possible war.
Ren said, “treaties are no longer a useful deterrent or detainment, we will go solo, pre-emptively,” and spoke about the United States backing out of treaties, such as the Nuclear Non Proliferation Treaty. In January 2002, Rumsfield created the Nuclear Posture Review which states the United States must maintain an arsenal and be able to build and advance weapons, she said.
Okazawa-Rey spoke about the effects of militarism on women. Okazawa-Rey said that militarism is misogynist.
The military supports a hyper masculinity and social values that keep women down said Okazawa-Rey. In the end women are left with the burden of causalities and having to support the rest of the family, she said.
Okazawa-Rey also said that there is a role for the US to be a peacekeeper. “Citizens of the US have to reclaim patriotism by demanding the country to live up to its potential,” she said, and redefine security as, “something where the environment physically is healthy, where everyone is guaranteed livelihood including health and cultural identity, and as protection from avoidable harm.”
“We have the potential to better the country, we have to take the initiative,” said Alix Jerinic, who discussed the importance of learning about the government and international history as well as getting in touch with people in different countries.