International Human Rights Day 2019

By Cecili Thompson Williams and Tarah Demant

Dear BombSquad members, allow me to introduce Tarah Demant. Tarah and I go way back. We both have our roots in human rights work and met working together on women’s human rights for Amnesty International USA.

Today, I work to prevent nuclear war and Tarah works to defend women’s rights. It may sound like our paths have diverged, but the truth is, they are just as intertwined as they’ve always been.

On this International Human Rights Day, a day we’ve celebrated together for years, we want to share how our fights are united. Those connection points are what we mean by intersectionality — the interconnectedness of identities, social causes, and systems of justice and oppression. But, what does that actually look like in practice?

CECILI: Well, on any given day, I’m working to drive bold and sane nuclear policy change in the U.S., leading a kick-ass team of campaigners in engaging the grassroots, the public, and partner organizations. If you read our blog or get our emails, you probably have a pretty good sense of our work. But, if not, check here and here.

TARAH: Like Beyond the Bomb, I spend my day working to make positive change– focused on promoting women’s rights at the state, national, and international level, trying to get laws and policies enacted that better protect the rights of women and girls here at home and around the world. I spend a lot of my time focused on the U.S. government — that might mean working to ensure the U.S. helps end rape against Native women by ensuring basic post-rape care or that the U.S. works to end violence against women globally in our foreign policy. I do this through educating our grassroots advocates, partners, and lawmakers; advocating for change, meaning having meetings, calls, or events with lawmakers or government entities; and collaborating with other organizations, our grassroots, and the people most impacted by these issues.

At Beyond the Bomb, we often talk about nukes as “Issue Zero” – they are the issue that takes primacy whether you think about them or not, whether you care about them or not, whether you act on them or not. There are so many reasons that is the case — from the devastating environmental and life-taking impacts a nuclear weapon can cause to the long-term destruction and health effects.

There are a lot of ways in which work to prevent nuclear war and end nuclear violence is specifically a women’s rights issue, things like:

  • Women are more sensitive to radiation exposure and are more likely to develop related cancers than men;
  • Women exposed to radiation also have a higher risk for pregnancy complications, including stillbirth;
  • Not to mention that women continue to be marginalized in the national security and nuclear policy fields.

Cecili and Tarah at XX Factor, A Women’s Human Rights Convening in 2012

For an excellent assessment of this, check out this recent article from a friend of Beyond the Bomb, Lilly Adams.

But even more at the root for me and Tarah, the connection point between our work is the international human rights framework. We both envision a world in which all people enjoy the fullness of their human rights, including the basic right to live — free from violence or fear of violence, free from discrimination or inequality, free to be who they are. It is our belief that all people deserve to live lives of peace and dignity that binds our work together as activists, rooted in our belief in the common humanity of all people.It’s a belief that we know means our work on nuclear weapons and women’s rights is rooted in the same hopes for the future, the same dream for the world to come.

So, this International Human Rights Day we hope that you’ll join us in recognizing the connections between nuclear weapons and human rights.