Five years and counting

The Iraq war and its toll on women, here and over there.

By Lynn Harris
Published March 19, 2008 6:18PM (EDT)

McCain is saying crazy shit. Cheney doesn't give a shit. Fortunately, on the somber, maddening fifth anniversary of the Iraq war, some other folks are picking up the slack. Sara Gould at the Ms. Foundation's blog, for one, has this to say:

As we enter into our sixth year in Iraq, we must elevate our thinking to a level beyond fear and its necessary corollaries -- racism, misogyny and economic injustice -- to a place where strategy is not owned by the military alone, but is informed by those who should have had a say all along. And we must deepen our thinking to carefully consider the implications of enduring war and occupation on the lives of women, youth and low-income families at home and abroad ...

The experiences of women whose partners have returned from violence abroad to inflict violence at home, as well as those of women who have reported widespread sexual assault within the military and private security firms, should inform policy decisions that will guarantee the protection of women's rights -- and lives.

Likewise, economic policy and military budgets should reflect the needs of a low-income, single parent -- and so many others like her -- who is struggling to support her family, while any hope of relief is siphoned away for a war with no end. Our increasing interdependence on each other and with the rest of the world demands an approach guided by a vision of a just and inclusive democracy that invites the perspectives and participation of those traditionally excluded from centers of power -- including women ...

The media must cover the broader impact of the Iraq war on those most at risk: the woman in Iraq who is afraid to leave her house for water for fear of being kidnapped, the wife of a veteran who sports the bruises of both her husband's anger and the country's callous treatment of young, often low-income men of color in this country who are recruited into the military with cash cards and free lunches ...

Similarly, our political leaders must engage in a more comprehensive conversation about Iraq, including the inextricable links between a failing war and a failing economy. In particular, they must take a good, hard look at the real economic fallout in this country -- the trillions spent while so many are struggling to keep their homes, pay exorbitant medical bills, afford school, or just the next meal ...

And finally, I and many other social justice advocates nationwide are still waiting for our presidential candidates to inspire us with a vision that will prevent us from returning to this violent, seemingly intractable place. To this end, we want them to articulate a new level of systemic understanding that acknowledges the connections between war and racism, misogyny and economic inequality. We want them to ensure an exit from Iraq that protects the rights and livelihoods of those made disproportionately less secure by war. And we want to be sure that they will incorporate the lived experiences of people across the spectrum of race, class and gender into their platforms and policies during this election season and beyond. Our democracy, and the rest of the world, depend on it.

Click the internal links for more five-year fallout and its impact on women.

Lynn Harris

Award-winning journalist Lynn Harris is author of the comic novel "Death by Chick Lit" and co-creator of She also writes for the New York Times, Glamour, and many others.

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