16 Days of Action against Gender Violence is a global campaign initiated by the Center for Women's Global Leadership (CWGL) and taking place from November 25th to December 10th, 2010.
PeaceWomen/WILPF’s mission, values and strategy are particularly related to this year's 16 Days Campaign theme: Structures of Violence: Defining the Intersections of Militarism and Violence Against Women. CWGL is asking civil society to get together information on our individual and collective experiences of militarism in order to address the structures in place that permit gender-based violence, the range of violations that militarism promotes, and the impact it has on our activism and our ability to live in genuine security.
Like the 16 Days Campaign, WILPF's aims and objectives are to bring together women of different political beliefs and philosophies who are united in their determination to study, make known and help abolish the causes and legitimizations of war: in particular, militarism and patriarchy.
PeaceWomen/WILPF’s 16 Day Campaign at a glance:
"The amount that the world spends on the military during one year is equal to the regular budget of the UN for 800 years ..."
We have researched, compiled, and calculated data on governments' military versus social services spending – i.e. “You Get What You Pay For.” We prepared expenditure summary estimating what a national government has spent on militarization versus social services/development assistant. As a result, we will see the extent of military expenditures per country versus an amount that has been cut or not prioritized in the national budget.
With these 16 examples of countries spending enormous amounts of money every year on militarism, it is clear that a shift in priorities is necessary in order to achieve sustainable development, gender equality and peace. In 2008, the total world expenditure on militarism reached 1 464 billion dollars, or 4 billion dollars per day. The same amount could cover the budget for 2928 years of the new UN women ’s agency, 700 years of the UN regular budget, and over 24 years of the additional foreign aid required to reach the Millennium Development Goals by 2015.
What would you invest in? You get what you pay for!
Argentina allocates 8% of its GDP for military spending, roughly 27 billion USD. This is the equivalent cost of public health for half a year. The cost of Argentina's arms imports could send 48 thousand children to primary school or fund the primary educations of the 30 thousand girls, currently not going to primary school, for one and a half years. Argentina last spent $54.8 billion dollars on arms imports (in 2010 constant USD). See further Argentina, by Isabelle Cutting, PeaceWomen
The funding to the Status of Women Canada, an arm of the government intended to promote women's equality across the country, was cut by $5 million this year by the Conservative government, a cut equivalent to 40% of the institution's budget. From May 2010, several severe cuts to other women’s organizations have been made by the federal Canadian International Development Agency, and literacy programs such as Human Resources and Skills Development Canada have experienced a $55.4 million cut. Simultaneously, Canada spent $20,564 million US Dollars on military expenditures in 2009. See further Canada, by Colleen Burke, WILPF Canada.
Israel`s military spending is approximately 7% of its GDP, smaller than the real expenditure as it relies heavily on additional U.S. aid. In 2007, the U.S. and Israel signed a Memorandum of Understanding wherein the U.S. agreed to give 30 billion USD in military aid over the course of ten years (to begin in 2009). Israel holds arms transfer agreements with developing countries, and was between 2005-2008 the world’s 7th largest arms supplier to these, agreements that were worth 3.5 billion dollars. See further Israel, by Michelle Reyf, PeaceWomen
In New Zealand annual funding given to the military is over ten times more than the amount spent on social development in the fields of prevention of child abuse, development of services for families and individuals at risk, and education programmes which might help children, young people and their families reduce their risk, through the Ministry of Social Development. This year the New Zealand government has budgeted $NZ 3,090,859,000 for the armed forces, on average, $8,468,106 a day. Last year, the National Collective of Independent Women's Refugees was allocated $16,193,000 by the government - less than two days of military expenditure. This year, Women's Refugee funding has become contestable, so there is no specific allocation in the 2010/11 budget.
In 2008, Russia was ranked as the fifth biggest spender on the military and arms with a budget of 58.6 billion dollars, representing an approximate 4% of the world share, and roughly 3.5% of its own GDP and a spending per capita of 413 dollars. The same amount Russia spent on militarism in 2008, 58.6 billion dollar could instead have been used to cover a little over 1 year of public health expenditure, ensure health care for nearly 11 billion people for over 1 year, and support almost 10 months of public spending on education. See further Russia, by Miruna Bucurescu, PeaceWomen.
While Sweden has steadily decreased its military spending, from 2.6% of GDP in 1988 to 1.4% in 2007, it remains one of the largest suppliers of arms to developing nations. Between 2000-2007 Sweden was ranked as the 8th largest supplier, positioning Sweden just after US, Russia, United Kingdom, France, China, Germany and Israel. These arms sales generated an income of $US 2.9 billion. In June 2006, Sweden carried out an extensive arms export deal with Pakistan at the price of $US 1.2 billion. This amount is 12 times the annual budget Pakistan dedicates to ensuring water and sanitation for its population. In total, between 2004- 2008, Sweden transferred $US 27 million worth of arms to Pakistan. Between January and June 2008 Sweden spent 50 million dollars on a international military exercise called Nordic Battle Group. If the same amount was spent on foreign development and humanitarian assistance, it could have given 1 725 000 young girls from a developing country access to education, health services, food and clean water. See further Sweden, by WILPF-Sweden.
The US total military expenditure in 2009 amounted to 663 billion dollars. This is almost half the world’s total military expenditure in 2009 – 46.3%. Arguments are made that funding the military creates jobs, particularly in the context of a recession. Research, however, proves that in comparison with other sectors, the job creation is lower. Number of Jobs Created with $1 Billion: Military 8,555 v's Health Care 10,779, v's Education 17,687, v's Mass Transit 19,795, v's Construction/Infrastructure 12,804.
1 billion USD (that’s 1/287 of the total expenditure on the war in Afghanistan or 1/663 of the total US military expenditure) could pay for: 2 billion meals for hungry people; OR 31,466,331 Child Immunizations against the six main childhood killer diseases diphtheria, whooping cough, measles, polio, tetanus and tuberculosis; OR 713,318 family homes; OR 270,196 Schools Furnished with desks, chairs, tables; OR 53,504,548 Children supplied with school books for a whole year; OR 3,876,720 Adult Literary Classes; OR 3,030,303 World Response Medicine Boxes; OR 89,126,560 Training courses for a health workers; OR 25,477,707 Children's School Desk and School Supplies; OR 1,430,451 Vocational Scholarships; OR 100,000,000,000 Chlorine Tablets to make water safe to drink.
The United States Congress has allocated over $1.05 trillion dollars to the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq over the last decade, and this figure does not even include the costs of the Obama administration's surge of 30,000 troops announced in December 2009.
China is the second largest military spender in the world after United States, spending 84 billion USD on the military in 2009. Simultaneously, 16% of China's population lived on less than 1.25 dollars a day. China' spends an equivalent to 2% of it GDP on militarism, while allocating only 1.9 % of its GDP to healthcare, and 2.3 % to education.
France is the third top military spender in the world, allocating over 65 billion USD on military expenditures in 2009, an amount equivalent to 2.3% of its GDP. France is the fifth largest supplier of arms to developing nations, and between 2005-2008. While spending over 65 billion dollars on militarism, and holding arms agreements worth more than 10,5 billion dollars with developing countries, France allocated only 9 billion dollars to humanitarian aid in 2009.
Of the leading suppliers in arms transfer agreements with development nations, 2005-2008 United Kingdom comes on third place. These arms transfer agreement are valued around $16.8 billion. The UK is the fourth largest military spender in the world and devoted $65 billion to military expenditures in 2009. At the same time, the UK has recently adopted a new budget with cut-backs that disproportionally impact women through changes to taxes, benefits, and pensions. An estimated 72% of the £8 billion worth of changes come out of women's pockets, while only 28% from men's.
In 2009, Brazil allocated 27,2 billion USD for military expenditures, 1.5% of its GDP. While efforts have been made in recent years to improve housing conditions, 26% of the Brazilian population still live in urban slum quarters, favelas, and 5.2% of the population lived on less than 1.25 dollars a day in 2007. A recent study showed that ten women are killed every day due to domestic violence in Brazil. Between 1997 and 2007 over 40,000 women were killed.
Japan is one of the world's top ten military spenders with an estimated military budget of 46.3 billion dollars in 2009. This is more than ten times the amount Japan contributes to the regular UN budget. At the same time, Japan spends less money on health care than the average OECD-country and has a pressing need to reform its health care system for an aging population.
India's military expenditure has grown steadily the latest years, increasing from 22 billion dollars in 2000 to 37 billion dollars in 2009. While India spends 37 billions dollars on militarism, which is equivalent to more than 2.6% of its GDP, it spends only 1.1% of its GDP on public healthcare. Figures from 2007 show that 128 million people lack access to an improved water source in India, and over 40% of India's huge population live on less than 1.25 dollars a day
Colombia spent more than 10 billion dollars on military expenditures in 2009. The previous year, 9 billion dollars - 3,7% of the country's GDP – was allocated to military expenditures, while Colombia at the same time had the highest unemployment rate in Latin America with 12% of the population without a job. Almost 18 percent of all Colombians live on less than USD $2 a day, and nearly 30 million Colombians, out of the total 45 million population live below the national poverty line. Due to limited employment opportunities, women are disproportionate targeted by poverty, and the unemployment rate for women is 19.2%, nearly 7% higher than men.
More than 38 billion dollars was spent on military expenditures in Saudi Arabia 2009, an amount more than 30 times larger than Saudi Arabia's contribution to the UN budget. With the second highest per capita spending on militarism - more than 1500 dollars - Saudi Arabia is only surpassed by the United States. In 2008, 8.2% of the country's GDP was allocated to defense, while only 2.7% to health and 5.7% to education. Recently, Saudi Arabia agreed to a 600 million arms deal with United States mainly consisting of fighter jets and helicopters, which is the largest U.S. arms deal ever. While men and women have similar levels of education, Saudi Arabia remains at the bottom rank of the global gender gap index, listed as number 130 out of 134. Currently, women hold no seats in the parliament, are not allowed to vote and make up only 19% of the labor force.
In 2008, Nigeria spent 1.7 billion dollars - 0.8% of its GDP - on military expenditures, but spent only marginally more on education; 0.9%. In 2006, male literacy was estimated to 71% and female 62%.
Democratic Republic of the Congo
What could be done with the approximate $140 Million spent on military expenditures every year in the Democratic Republic of the Congo? The cost of a forensic rape exam is $800: you could buy 175,000 rape kits. The evidence gathered with these rape kits, if properly taken care of, could lead to an end of impunity in the DRC. See further DRC, by Melissa Jaworowski, PeaceWomen.
To learn more about:
WILPF's 16 Days Campaign, visit WILPF's analysis page.
The price tag of war, see the Cost of War calculator.
Violence Against Women -- and explore relevant news, resources, initiatives, publications, advocacy & education tools -- visit PeaceWomen's VAW Theme page.