For immediate release
March 3, 2022
Amid Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, growing conflict between the United States and China, and increasing tensions between the United States and the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (North Korea), 100 women leaders from more than 20 countries — including Nobel Peace Laureates, parliamentarians, prominent feminist activists and scholars, writers, humanitarian aid workers, and an ambassador for gender equality — sent a letter to U.S. Deputy Secretary of State Wendy Sherman and North Korea’s First Vice Minister of Foreign Affairs Choe Son-hui today, urging them to help set the stage for a diplomatic solution to avoid possible war.
As the highest-ranking women diplomats in their respective countries, Sherman and Choe are in a unique position to represent the interests of women, the letter-writers state. “Women are powerful agents for peace,” they write. The women — among them feminist pioneer Gloria Steinem, South Korean Ambassador for Gender Equality Youngsook Cho, and Canadian Senator Marilou McPhedran — note that the current situation could escalate into a possible military confrontation, and that diplomacy through engagement and dialogue is the best way to build trust and reduce tensions between the two countries.
The authors note that the unresolved state of the Korean War, which was only halted by an armistice in 1953, is the root cause of tensions between the U.S. and North Korea, so resolving the conflict requires formally ending the war with a peace agreement. They also point out the gendered impacts of the ongoing war in the form of sanctions and divided families, and state that the U.S. “must give up its ‘maximum pressure’ campaign” in order to achieve progress.
“Previous administrations have failed to resolve this crisis, but Sherman and Choe are in a unique position to begin to heal the decades-old wounds of distrust and hostility between the U.S. and North Korea,” said Christine Ahn, Executive Director of Women Cross DMZ, which organized the letter campaign. “Studies have long shown that when women are involved in peace processes, it leads to a lasting agreement. Sherman and Choe must use their positions of power and get the U.S. and North Korea back to the negotiating table.”
“American and Korean women have been building the political will for peace on the Korean Peninsula,” said Gloria Steinem. “Now, two women in power could do what men before them have failed to do: bring an end to the 72-year old Korean War.”
“As a filmmaker who has traveled to conflict zones to document war, I’ve seen who is impacted the most — women and children,” said Abigail Disney, Emmy-award winning filmmaker and philanthropist. “At a time of rising inflation and economic instability, we need to end America’s oldest war and move the money from the Pentagon towards investments in health, education and housing — the true measures of security.”
“We need these two leading women diplomats from the US and DPRK to meet, talk, and move the peace process forward with South Korea,” said Mimi Han, Vice President of World YWCA. “Korean women want peace. Our lives are at stake and our families are torn apart. We are tired of living under this state of war.”