The Future is Feminist
Women Cross DMZ are Leading
Women Claiming a Role in the Korea Peace Process

On May 24th, 2015, the International Women’s Day for Peace and Disarmament, 30 women peacemakers from across the globe walked across the two-mile wide De-Militarized Zone (DMZ) from North to South Korea. They called for an official end to the Korean War, one marked by the signing of a peace treaty, and for the reunification of families separated by a divided Korea.

They also demanded a place for women in the peace process. This dramatic action, with participants like Gloria Steinem and Nobel Peace Prize winners Mairead Maguire of Northern Ireland and Leymah Gbowee of Liberia, called the world’s attention to a war that had never come to an official end.

This year, Women Cross DMZ , which is fiscally sponsored by the Peace Development Fund and a member of PDF’s capacity building program, The Sustainability Project, was awarded a $2 million grant from the Radical Hope Fund of the NoVo Foundation for the Women’s 2020 Peace Campaign, also sponsored by PDF.

For Christine Ahn, the visionary behind this action, the inspiration for Women Cross DMZ first came in 2009 when she read about the diplomatic impasse between North and South Korea that followed the wall of water released by the North Koreans from the Hwanggang Dam on the Imjin River. Six South Koreans were swept away and killed in the resultant flood. What struck Ahn about this incident was the lack of communication between the two Korean male leaders. She reasoned that building relationships of reconciliation between women on the Korean Peninsula might be the avenue to promote more communication and an eventual resolution to the hostilities between the nations.

In late 2013 Ahn proposed that international women peacemakers walk across the De-Militarized Zone (DMZ) to support Koreans working for peace and reconciliation.

An outpouring of support followed the 2015 Walk and interest grew in bringing about a peace treaty, not simply for the sake of Koreans but for the security of the world. Women Cross DMZ has, in five short years, developed into an important advocate for a Korea Peace Treaty and also into a major voice for the importance of including women in the peace process. An annual DMZ walk and symposium in South Korea now take place, during which activists strategize about how to advance peace and support diplomatic efforts to that end. Women Cross DMZ’s work has become more visible and public support has grown to the delight of PDF, which itself started supporting peace groups in 1981.

The 2015 DMZ crossing was not the end, Women Cross DMZ’ argued, but the continuation of a long-term movement for peace and reconciliation of Korea. It was the first step in what has grown to be an ongoing effort to advocate for peace in Korea in the United Nations, the U.S. Congress, the Nobel Peace Laureates Summit, in meetings with North and South Korean women and to a larger public through webinars, conferences and meetings.

If you want to learn more about Women Cross DMZ read about them in our Annual Report.
Is There a Feminist Foreign Policy?
We Think So
In 1981, Peace Development Fund first brought donors together as peace and anti-nuclear funders. Now, more than 35 years later, we continued to be faced with wars and nuclear build-up. On the foreign policy front, our government has become more bellicose and more isolationist. Now is the time to bring donors and activists together to bring about the peaceful, anti-nuclear worlds we have long sought, one that treasures human rights.

As we began to discuss this concept with our grantees, we realized that, with our fiscally sponsored groups, we have the potential for facilitating movement-building as well as capacity building at the organizational level. These cross-sectional conversations are especially well-suited to work with groups that share similar missions and visions.

Peace Development Fund is excited to announce the 2019 Women Peacemakers Initiative and to invite our grantees and fiscally sponsored groups, to participate. The Initiative will be anchored by Women for Genuine Security, Women Cross DMZ and the Women’s International League of Peace and Freedom-U.S. in March 2019. The Women Peacemakers Initiative, like other future planned initiatives, is aiming to bring together groups that are affiliated with PDF through grants or The Sustainability Project. In this Initiative, these groups are led by women, and focus on peace and anti-militarism. We envision they will come together to make connections, network, learn, and receive support from one another. PDF believes that by facilitating this convening, organizations will have a greater opportunity to grow and thrive.

For more information about the new Initiative or to participate, contact Michaela Goodenough
Women Are the Agents of Change
The Women of Turn South are Leading Change in the South
Imagine you have a daughter who is ill but the nearest health care facility is a few towns away. Imagine now, having to worry about losing your job if you need to take time off to bring your child to the doctor. Jobs in the area are hard to come by and often lack benefits. Imagine working full-time and still not being able to pay your rent. The stress of debt feels debilitating, the lack of opportunities is limiting, the educational system is broken and people’s basic human rights are ignored.

Many people living in the South do not need to imagine that sort of life because they are living it. The South remains one of the poorest regions of the U.S., and one of the most under-served regions. Southern states have the highest infant mortality rate in the country, lowest life expectancy and largest pay gap between genders. Concurrent with poverty is the legacy of slavery and the long history of racism. How do we change such a bleak situation? We do it with the help of the women in Turn South .

Both PDF and Turn South understand that Southern women are the key agents of change. They experience directly the devastating impacts of oppression and therefore are best equipped to identify solutions to end it. Turn South engages women of all ages because it is never too early or too late to be part of change.

Rather than create social services that act as band aids for major issues, the women of Turn South are addressing the root causes of Southern poverty. They have created civic engagement centers that explore the relationship between community service and human rights. Their rights-based approach for implementing community service projects supports women as human rights leaders.

Educational sessions introduce human rights standards and explain how they relate to rights protections and poverty reduction in the U.S. Turn South also focuses on effective organizing, coalition-building tactics and creating Human Rights Cities with effective policies for addressing inequality. As a result of Turn Souths programs, new leaders are shaped, women collaborate with one another and policies are changed. These leaders in turn will advance social justice and human rights movements in rural areas.

In short, hope is being restored.
Thank you for your support.