Thursday, September 17, 2009

Women Activists Explore a Post-Military Economy

Activists explore post-military economy
Friday, 18 September 2009
Marianas Variety Guam Reporter

PEOPLE will have to work together if they want to sustain an economy after the military. This was emphasized during the fourth day of the 7th Meeting of the International Network of Women Against Militarism at the University of Guam in Mangilao.

The morning a panel focused on the topic “Beyond the Military Economy: Exploring Alternatives for Sustainability.”

Participating were Alma Bulawan of the Buklod Center Philippines, Dr. Hannah Middleton of the Australian Anti-Base Campaign, Dr. Miyume Tanji of Curtin University of Technology in Australia, and Isabella Sumang of Palau.

Each panelist gave a perspective of the impact the military has had on their respective regions.

Bulawan had indicated that when there were bases in the Philippines, businesses were set up to cater to the military as well as prostitution. It appears now that with those bases closed, businesses and the prostitution still remain.

She referred to the Subic Bay and Clark Freeport Zones, which formerly hosted the U.S. Naval Base and the Air Force Base and have each seen the creation and development of businesses.

Despite the conversion of the old bases, Bulawan said the Philippines continues to face economic challenges.

As for Australia, Middleton explained how millions of Australian dollars are spent on military defense and other armed forces programs. A recent poll showed that 70 percent of Australians do not want any more money spent on the military.

She added that the Australians believe the money should go on helping the environment, improving hospitals and even to create jobs.

“We expect one million Australians will be unemployed in 2010, money should be spent to help them find jobs,” she said.

During the open forum, several concerns were brought up including a question on whether they felt that the threat of an invasion and war is real here in Micronesia.

Sumang responded that it could be the case especially when there is a military presence. “You have that threat hanging over your head,” she said.

Middleton offered another perspective saying that the threat is an excuse to keep military bases in the region.

“It’s not real,” she pointed out.

The women’s conference concludes today at the Carmel on the Hill Retreat Center in Malojloj or the former Carmelite Convent.

Participants are expected to discuss Human Trafficking and Prostitution and gather together in group meetings to develop short term and long term goals.

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