A women’s peace movement is growing in Korea where the vestiges of the Cold War can still be witnessed to this day. The winds of peace are blowing in Bitgoeul, the village of light, or Gwangju, this June, a month when the Korean War broke out more than half a century ago. Once again, the fact that we are living in an age in dire need for peace is brought home to us. What does it mean exactly that women have begun talking about peace?
Women have been contributing to the peace movement by looking at the world from a 'different' angle. Feminism brings a fresh wind to the peace movement by providing new forms of awareness, which are necessary in order to critically reorganize the existing concepts of peace and security.
A belief that 'power is a prerequisite for peace' has traditionally been at the very center of the discourse on peace. For this reason, we were not very surprised by the irony behind the government's recent announcement that it would build a U.S. naval base in the island of Jeju, which had long been designated 'An Island of Peace'.
Many women, however, advocate that peace is not 'maintained' by power, military capability and masculinity, but made within the confines of 'relationships.' Feminist peace politics begins with thinking that we are able to learn the significance of being not by conquering and discriminating others, but by depending on each other in mutual relationships. The perception of interdependence overwhelms any type of unilateralism, antagonism, isolated arrogance and violence.
Peace-making by women does not imply state-oriented security or top-down peace, but a bottom-up peace process that originates from the life of ordinary citizens, among others. Daily peace means to establish a relationship in which people happily understand each other. An attempt to change any relationship of power -a relationship between a man and a woman, between men or between women, etc.- that hinders people from 'understanding' one another is construed as a peace movement. In feminist peace politics, therefore, life itself is a route and a movement for peacemaking.
Such an activity for peace by women has been more visible since the September 11 terrorist attacks on the U.S. Furthermore, a women’s peace movement does not imply the extension of traditional maternity, and is not based on humanitarianism, but brings us a new wind of peace on which women can freely cross various borders.
By Elli Kim, Director of the Women's Peace Research Center & Co-Representative of Women Making Peace