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New Social Compact

Beyond the conventional gender roles: The Role of Women in Anti-nuclear Movements

Eugene Gordon/The New York Historical Society/Getty Images



Nuclear weapons have been at the core of all major international discussions since its creation. It represented a state of revolutionised human affairs and kept decision makers on their toes. The destructive potential of the weapon hit the human conscious when the United States of America dropped the atom bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, which altered the nature of war thereafter. The seed for Anti-nuclear movements were sown almost immediately after the nuclear attack on the two Japanese cities.

The Anti-nuclear movements are social movements that raises questions about the existence of the nuclear weapons; the threat (physical and mental) revolving around it, its uses and the presence of knowledge regarding nuclear technologies. The goals of the movement range from peace to environmental, from moral to intellectual activism. Unlike most of the social movements that emerged after the Second World War, the Anti-nuclear movements were unique with two key characteristics- meticulous planning and non-violence. These characteristics could be channelled and practiced because most of these Anti-nuclear movements were led by women. I was quite intrigued to investigate how a destructive weapon often associated with masculinity, power dynamics and rationale was fought against by women to generate awareness about its deadly potential. Women did not only participate but also organised campaigns of varied forms to educate the masses about the deadly weapon. All of these were done through demonstrations, speeches, rallies, posters and songs. It is quite interesting to study how the methods adopted for the movement were in sharp opposition to the harsh aggressive and deadly nature of the weapon.

This article will analyse the varied roles adopted by women while voicing against the Bomb by considering four anti-nuclear movements- Women Strike for Peace, Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament, Greenham Common Women’s Peace Movement, and Seneca Women’s Encampment for Future Peace and Justice. This paper will end on a discussion on the relevance of anti-nuclear movements in the world today and what are the ways through which awareness regarding nuclear weapons can be generated.

The dropping of the nuclear bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki in 1945 amassed a veil of horror across the world and received sharp criticism. A number of movements came up immediately to protest against nuclear weapons which were mostly led by men. However, the period between 1950’s and 1960’s witnessed some interesting turn of events which altered the conventional gender roles. Women started voicing against the presence of nuclear weapons and challenged the prevailing gender-power nexus through a number of movements. The following section will delve into a discussion on four types of role that women adopted during the Anti-nuclear movements.

Humanity with Responsibility

The involvement of women in anti-nuclear protests brought about a humanitarian dimension in understanding the presence of the destructive weapons. Ever since its introduction, the nuclear weapons have been associated with ‘Masculine’ attributions that even the initial movements against the weapons were led by men. The National Committee for Sane Nuclear policy, one of the first such movements and majorly led by men published in one of their Ads-“Act Now for Man’s Sake”. However, women realised the need to come out on the streets to voice not only against the weapons but the whole power dynamics around the nuclear discussions which were primarily dominated by men. In 1961, an iconic Anti-nuclear movement called Women Strike for Peace came up to demonstrate against testing of nuclear weapons. They were overcome by the fear of radioactive milk and where agitated by the inconsistency of the peace groups ran by men. The group comprised of educated middle-class women, mostly housewives led by Dagmar Wilson as they marched in thousands towards the White House, to demonstrate against the testing of the weapons and eventually, were able to push the power blocs into signing the Nuclear Test Ban Treaty. Women, who were perceived as peace lovers and intellectually subordinate to men, altered this conventional notion by adding their ‘womanly touch’ with a sense of responsibility. Women felt a special responsibility to protect the children and the future generations.

Struggle for Survival

The nuclear attack on the Japanese cities wiped out almost half of the population; but what was even more traumatic was the account of the survivors. Even after 75 years of the nuclear attack, its aftermath is still fatal and catastrophic. The survivors of the nuclear attack who are called the “Hibakusha” played a prolific role in protesting against the nuclear weapons. The testimonials of the women were heart wrenching. Sayoko Fujioka, a Hiroshima Hibakusha, who lost her six month old daughter said in her testimonial,

“The atomic bombing was unforgiveable, but it couldn’t be avoided.” She further added, “I don’t have a photo of Shigeko, or a piece of clothing.”

Some of the survivors who immigrated to North America started documenting their survival stories which became a source for other women to empathise and join in the Anti-nuclear protest. The impending doom surrounding the weapons made the struggle for survival from a cataclysmic attack among women even more. In Japan, housewives launched the widespread petition campaign that resulted in the formation of Gensuikyo. The women within The Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament came up with slogans like “Let Britain’s Women Lead” to counter against the male domination and slack in pushing for disarmament. Women are identified as caregivers and the effects of the weapons on children, pregnant women and unborn child terrified their thought.

Hysterical motherhood

Gender plays a significant role in understanding the dynamics around the nuclear weapons. A very prominent and striking role adopted by women during the Anti-nuclear protests was that of ‘motherhood’. Helen Caldicott, one of the key proponents of the anti-nuclear movements in one of her addresses stated,

“I want you to sit down tonight and write a letter. If you’ve got your own children: to them. If you haven’t: to the children of the earth.”

It addresses the women as ‘mothers’ to unite and urges them to save their children. Many of these movements were explicitly run by women where the ‘child metaphor’ was prominent. In the famous Greenham Common Women’s Peace Camp, women identified themselves as ‘mothers’ to give legitimacy to their protests for the safety and he future of their children. (Shepherd,8). The women are passionate, quite hysterical when it comes to their child. The collective identity of ‘women as mothers’ were a great way to make women emotionally connect, empathise and to save the future generation. It highlighted their importance in the public sphere as moving beyond the ‘kitchen space’.

Altering power dynamics

A very significant change in the 1960’s was the Second Wave of Feminist Movements which coincided with the Anti-nuclear protests. It encouraged women to question the existing power dynamics at the political level. Starting from state leaders to diplomats, from policy makers to even the presence of the nuclear weapons, everything was dominated by men. Women were considered intellectually subordinate to men and were attributed with the qualities of peace, love and calmness. Women realised the need to raise their voice within the public sphere to bring about gender equality. The Seneca Women’s Encampment for a Future of Peace and Justice was a movement against nuclear weapons, militarism and patriarchy. It supported the need for Nuclear Education for all and brought about the discourses on Ecofeminism and Non-Violence. Women came forward to eliminate the distinction between the ‘private and the public space’ and to deconstruct the existing notion of power dynamics in the international system.

The nuclear weapons which emerged during the Second World War period thrived and prospered during the Cold War and continue to dominate in the post-Cold War period. The Anti-nuclear movements posed a challenge not only to the existence of the weapons but also in the other politico-social dimensions. The critics of these movements were sceptical about its success in bringing about disarmament. However, one cannot deny the substantial amount of influence these movements had on some of the major nuclear arms control treaties during the Cold War period. Therefore, as long as the weapons exist the prominence of anti-nuclear movements will persist. What is more crucial in this century is to acknowledge the fact that there are more nuclear power nations and therefore the threats are higher. In the context of South Asia, there is a major need to bring about Confidence Building Measures to ensure transparency and stability.

Some of ways in which nuclear awareness can be build are- through nuclear education, discourses within the academia, varied levels of diplomatic talks, awareness campaigns in schools and engagement between different civil society bodies. As Tenuko Ueno, another hibakusha says, “…the first step is to make the local government take action,” it all starts at home. Women have played significant roles in generating awareness about the weapons and have paved the path for the future generation to carry forward the baton.

Saanjana Goldsmith, currently pursuing MA Politics(International & Area Studies) at Jamia Millia Islamia University , New Delhi.

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New Social Compact

Women in leadership ‘must be the norm’



Ola Alaghbary, co-founder and chairwoman of a youth foundation in Yemen, works on empowering women to make positive changes in their Heba Naji

We can no longer exclude half of humanity from international peace and security matters, the UN chief told the Security Council on Thursday, emphasizing the need to fully address the challenges and gaps that continue to prevent women having an equal say.

Today, women’s leadership is a cause. Tomorrow, it must be the norm”, Secretary-General António Guterres told the meeting, covering landmark resolution 1325 on Women, Peace and Security.

Frontline women

Having just visited the photo exhibition, In their Hands: Women Taking Ownership of Peace – a collection of inspiring stories of women around the world seen through the lenses of women photographers – he told ambassadors that the exhibit brings to “vivid life” their dedication to “the most important and consequential cause of all, peace”.

“From the safety of this chamber, we discuss and debate pathways of peace for countries around the world”, said the UN chief. “But the women portrayed in the exhibition are on the front lines of the fight for peace”.

He called them peacebuilders, changemakers and human rights leaders, and described their work mediating and negotiating with armed groups; implementing peace agreements; pushing for peaceful transitions; and fighting for women’s rights and social cohesion throughout their communities.

Yet, he pointed out, “women remain on the periphery of formal peace processes, and they’re largely excluded from rooms where decisions are made”.

Disheartening trend

Citing rising rates of violence and misogyny; the extreme under-representation of women in decision-making positions; and a myriad of challenges faced by those in conflict, the top UN official observed that the power imbalance between men and women remains “the most stubborn and persistent of all inequalities”.

In every humanitarian emergency, the clock on women’s rights has not stopped. It’s moving backwards”, he said regretfully.

In Ethiopia, women have been victims of sexual violence; in Yemen, excluded from political processes by the warring parties; in Afghanistan, undergoing a rapid reversal of the rights they had achieved in recent decades; and in Mali, after two coups in nine months, “the space for women’s rights is not just shrinking, but closing”, Mr. Guterres said.

‘Fast-track women’

The UN chief stressed: “We need to fight back, and turn the clock forward for every woman and girl” – the commitment outlined in Our Common Agenda and Call to Action on Human Rights.

“Increasing women’s representation and leadership across every aspect of the UN’s peace activities is critical to improving the delivery of our mandate and better representing the communities we serve”, he said.

But Council’s support is needed for partnerships, protection and participation.

Women leaders and their networks must be supported to meaningfully engage in peace and political processes, he explained.

Secondly, women human rights defenders and activists must be protected as they carry out their essential work.

And finally, women’s “full, equal and meaningful participation” must be supported in peace talks, peacebuilding, and political systems as countries transition to peace, he said.

We need full gender parity”, underscored the UN chief. “We know it can be done”.

Advancing women’s rights

Women should not have to accept reversals of their rights in countries in conflict, or anywhere else.

Mr. Guterres said that the UN will double down on “truly inclusive peacemaking” and put women’s participation and rights “at the centre of everything we do – everywhere we do it”.

The best way to build peace is through inclusion, and to honour the commitment and bravery of women peacemakers we must “open doors to their meaningful participation”.

Let’s turn the clock forward on women’s rights and give half of humanity the opportunity to build the peace we all seek”, concluded the Secretary-General.

Time to say ‘enough’

To create a tangible difference in the lives of women and girls, UN Women Executive Director, Sima Bahous, highlighted the need for governments and the Security Council “to step up” to address the way we confront peace and security issues.

For too long violence has targeted females and their rights; and women continue to be marginalized and excluded “in those very places where they can drive change”, she told the Council.

“Surely the time has come to say enough”, she said.

Open doors to women

While acknowledging a “glimmer of light” resulting from the passage of the original resolution, Ms. Bahous said that while not enough, it must be used in the fight for women’s equality.

Noting that vast military spending has been “in bitter contrast” to limited investments in other areas, she advocated for curbing military spending and expressed hope that delegates “share my sense of urgency” on the issue, which impacts other priorities, including women’s rights.

The UN Women chief noted that increased participation, combined with curbing the sale of arms in post-conflict settings, significantly reduces the risk of backsliding.

She reminded ambassadors that while “equal nations are more peaceful nations”, equality requires higher levels of support for healthcare and related services.

Moreover, Ms. Bahous regretted that women’s organizations are poorly funded, noting that without the necessary financial resources, they cannot effectively carry out their work.

Turning to Afghanistan, she shone a light on the women who had collaborated with the UN and whose lives are now in danger, advocating for doors to be opened wider, to women asylum seekers.

Women at the stakeout

Subsequently, former Afghan women politicians took to the Security Council stakeout to ask the international community to pressure the Taliban “to put their words in action” and fulfill their promises made in 2019 in Qatar including supporting girls’ education and women’s rights.

“The reason we are here today is to meet with different Member States and ask them to regard women and human rights in Afghanistan as a matter of national security of their own countries, because it’s not just a political or social issue but it’s a matter of security”, said Fawzia Koofi, former Peace Negotiator and first woman Deputy Speaker of Afghan Parliament.

Former Afghan Parliamentarian and Chairperson of the House Standing Committee for Human Rights, Civil Society and Women Affairs, Naheed Fareed, questioned whether the world wanted to “register in history” their recognition of “a de facto structure that is in place in Afghanistan”,  to represent Afghan women, their dignity and desires. “From my point of view, they don’t”, she told reporters.

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New Social Compact

Gender Mainstreaming and the Development of three Models



The field of gender mainstreaming plays a central role in the debate of critical feminist International Relations (IR) theorists. Reading the influential work of Enloe 2014 regarding the locations and the roles of women in the subject of IR brings women into the central discussion of international studies. However, some of the feminist IR scholars defy the negligible participation of women in international political theory and practice. 

The main aim of gender mainstreaming is to achieve gender equity in all spheres of life (social, political, economic), without any doubt that gender mainstreaming has had a central role in pushing the strategy of realising gender equity since the concept’s inception. However, feminist IR scholarship admits that it is not the best approach, or in other words, the right pathway concerning feminist struggle. There are many different approaches and mechanisms in which such dissatisfaction is conveyed; nonetheless, at the axis of Postcolonial Feminist scholars debate, gender main streaming depoliticises the concerns of feminist scholars. Feminist studies show that theoretically, the change of structuring of gender equity determinations from women to gender in gender mainstreaming perhaps contradicted achievements made to bring women from the periphery to the centre of Feminist IR. 

The emergence of Models in Development:

Discussion asking to what extent women have been benefited (or not) from the developmenthas given rise to the following three models. These approaches show how men and women are affected in different ways because of the development of how the lives of women, in particular, are affected. 

Women in Development (WID):

By the 1970s, the reality that women were subjugated and left far behind in the process of development became clear and widely recognised. In some areas, this recognition even acknowledged development has further worsened the status of women, for example, the exclusion of women from the main development projects. The Women in Development (WID) approach proposed the inclusion of women into programs related to development. WID was a successful initiative that strengthened the consideration of women as an integral part of society. The decade of 1975 to 1985 was even declared the decade of women. However, this approach was problematic, as WID did not focus on structural changes in social and economic systems, which were necessary for discussion. Furthermore, this approach was not enough to bring women to the mainstream of development successfully.  

Women and Development (WAD):

Thisapproach was critical and arose in the late 1970s using Marxist feminist (critical) thoughts. As its nature, the Women and Development (WAD) approach criticised WID because of an increasing gap between men and women. According to WAD, the idea of women’s inclusion was wrong because women already contributed substantially to society. Yet, they were not receiving the benefits of their contributions, and WID further contributed to global inequalities. The main rationale of WAD was to increase interactions between men and women rather than just implementing strategies of women’s inclusion. Besides, WAD considered the class system and unequal distribution of resources to be primary problems, as it’s women and men who suffer from the current system. On a theoretical level, WAD strongly endorsed changes to the class system; however, it proved impractical as it ignored the reason for patriarchy and failed to answer the social relationships between men and women. 

Gender and Development (GAD):

In the 1980s, further reflection on development approaches started the debate of Gender and Development (GAD). As GAD followed and learned from the weaknesses and failures of WID and WAD, it was a more comprehensive approach. GAD paid particular attention to social and gender relations and divisions of labour in society. The GAD approach strove to provide further rise to women’s voices while simultaneously emphasising women’s productive and reproductive roles, contending taking care of children is a state responsibility. As a result of GAD, in 1996, the Zambian government changed their department of WID to the Gender and Development Division (GADD). These changes made it easier for women to raise their voices more constructively in an African country. Gender development is a continuous, current phenomenon. Women have choices today that they did not have in prior or even the last generation. 

The main point is that instead of discussing whether to mainstream gender or not, it needs to be discussed how it can happen in a better way. Gender mainstreaming is considered a theory of change in GAD. 

The above discussion has offered an overview of how gender mainstreaming’s theoretical approaches and expectations have met with the praxis; however, some scholars critique the concept of depoliticising and diluting equality struggles. These considerations are also worth inquiry and, accordingly, are discussed below. 

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New Social Compact

KP’s Education Reforms – Heading Towards Right Path



The first word revealed in the holy Quran was “Iqra” which means “to read”. This first verse of Holy Quran shows us the importance of pen, greatness of knowledge and importance of education in Islam. Article 25-A of Pakistan’s constitution obliges the state to provide free and compulsory education to all children between the ages of five and sixteen. Education is the reason behind rise and fall of any nation. After the 18th amendment, on April 19th 2010, the education sector was assigned to the provinces, with a hope that provinces would focus on providing quality education, as previously; there was a lack of comprehensive planning and strategy in this sector.

During its second stint in KP, PTI-led government declared an education emergency in the province. As part of election manifesto, PM Imran Khan reiterated his firm resolve to upgrade education system across KP. Consequently, during past three years, KP government has focused on the neglected education sector and introduced various revolutionary steps to improve the quality of education.  

The provincial government is spending heavily on building infrastructure and basic facilities. The number of non-functional schools have been reduced massively due to effective policies. A real time focus is given to the lack of facilities like boundary walls, water supply, electricity, and toilets. To get rid of load shedding issues, the government installed thousands of solar panels in schools to have an un-interrupted supply of electricity at daytime.  Simultaneously, increased annual budget for education.

The present age is known as an era of Information Technology (IT) and a nation cannot progress without making full use of it. Therefore, the provincial government has established thousands of state of the art IT labs across KP. It is pertinent to mention here that Microsoft has also endorsed this effort and offered to train above 15000 IT teachers with free certification.

The major five-year revolutionary educational reform plan (2019-2023) was brought by department of Elementary and Secondary Education as a flagship project of KP government in this tenure. The four core aspects of this innovative plan includes teachers’ training, curriculum reforms, establishment and up-gradation of schools and the appointment of new teaching staff.

In order to reduce teacher to student ratio it has been decided to hire 65,000 new teachers well versed with modern education techniques, including 11,000 primary teachers under this five years’ plan. So far, more than 40,000 teachers have been recruited on merit bases through NTS. After the merger of tribal districts in KP, the education Ministry has approved a handsome amount for the restructuring the current education system. In order to modernize the current education system, KP government has established 138 Data Collection Monitoring Assistants (DCMAs) in tribal districts.

Taleemi Islahi Jirga (TIJs) are converted into Parent-Teacher Councils (PTCs) and connected them with education ministry with an aim to keep a check and balance. Government has introduced a new concept of school leaders and aims to train about 3,000 leaders who will be responsible for monitoring the classrooms, lesson management, implementation, and daily school life.

The process of expanding teachers’ training program to all districts of the province is also in process. Furthermore, the education department has almost completed its working on the development of high-quality script lessons for different subjects. Textbooks for classes 1 to 10, will also be revised according to modern standards by 2023.

Another milestone achieved by KP government is the establishment of Independent Monitoring Unit (IMU). This vigilant monitoring system has reduced teachers’ absenteeism by 17% to 20%. It also constantly collects reliable data which is helpful for realistic planning.

Previously, teachers used to take salaries without performing any duties; however, with the advent of biometric attendance system, those ghost servants have been captured. Enrollment drives have been organized every year. Government is giving free books to the children including drawing and coloring books to enhance their creative thinking. Government is also stressing on female education through its new policy of building classrooms with a ratio of 2 for female and 1 for male.

To impart the true teachings of Islam, Quranic education and Nazira is made compulsory up to class 12th. In a refreshing development, students of private schools are migrating to government schools due to student-friendly policies.

Nevertheless, there is room for improvement in the education sector like linking promotions of teaching and administrative staff with performance. Government teachers should be made bound to enroll their children in public sector. The concept of uniform curriculum will create national thinking. Another important aspect which needs attention is to address the growing role of tuition and coaching centers. Technical education should also be focused from the base. Experiences of others successful educational models like Finland model may be studied to improve the sector.  

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