Women De-Militarize the Zone Organizes a Historic March for Peace in Korea Published on April 29, 2015

On October 30, 2000 the United Nations Security Council Resolution 1325 was passed, recognizing the significance of women’s “equal participation and full involvement in all efforts for the maintenance and promotion of peace and security.”

WomenCrossDMZ at the UN Conference on Status of Women, March 11th 2015

WomenCrossDMZ at the UN Conference on Status of Women, March 11th 2015.

Fifteen years later, PDF grantee Women De-Militarize the Zone models women’s leadership in peacemaking.

Women De-Militarize the Zone plans on crossing the De-Militarized Zone (DMZ) separating North and South Korea. “It’s hard to imagine any more physical symbol of the insanity of dividing human beings,” states the co-chair and feminist activist Gloria Steinem. Indeed, the DMZ is highly militarized and has been dividing Korean families for roughly 6o years.

Thirty international women peacemakers will be walking on May 24, 2015. Counting two Nobel Peace Prize laureates, the women’s delegation will hold an international peace symposium in Pyongyang and Seoul where they hope to engage in a dialogue with Korean women. “Women ‘s leadership is urgently needed to break the impasse, revive diplomacy, and put squarely into the security discourse the experiences of those most directly impacted by military violence,” states Christine Ahn, the coordinator of the march.

The Korean conflict started in 1950, when North Korea, supported by the USSR and China invaded South Korea. Even though a ceasefire agreement was signed in 1953, no peace treaty has ever followed. Sixty years later, North and South Korea are still at war.

While people struggle to survive an economic crisis in North Korea, governments in the region deprive their population of developmental investments in order to increase militarization. Instead of investing in health care or education, Korean officials pay for weapons. Demilitarization is a crucial issue in the region.

Women De-Militarize the Zone after the UN Conference on Status of Women

Women De-Militarize the Zone after the UN Conference on Status of Women

While organizing the walk, Women De-Militarize the Zone faced a huge challenge: getting the authorization from both North and South Korea, as well as the United Nations. The UN offered its support to facilitate the walk if North and South Korea were to authorize the walk. Permission was granted just last week.  “We believe that the political will must exist to pressure political leaders towards breaking that impasse, and this march could provide a huge catalyzing force.”

“In addition to organizing the march, we would very much like to build a grassroots movement of women dedicated to seeing peace on the Korean peninsula,” says our grantee. The action of Women De-Militarize the Zone is not going to stop after May 24th. Members are planning to organize educational workshops that inform and mobilize women for international peace-making.

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