Peace Movement Aotearoa pointed out recently just how incredible the global military spend is:
Last year global military expenditure was $1,747 trillion (US$) – on average, almost $4.8 billion (US$) every day. By way of contrast, an average of more than 24,000 children under the age of five die every day from mainly preventable causes – lack of access to adequate food, clean water and basic medicines. This is one of the prices paid, the collateral damage that is seldom talked about, for maintaining armed forces in a state of combat readiness around the world.
New Zealand’s most recent budget is another reflection of those same values.
The recent revelations about New Zealand’s apparent complicity in the U.S practice of extra-judicial killings by drone, also indicate an unacceptable degree of entanglement in the global military complex.
Overseas Development and Aid could be a key tool to help us address the roots of conflict and prevent war. Imagine if every ‘developed’ country spent even half of their military budgets on ODA instead of militarisation.
Sadly our aid budget is only a token effort compared to our military spending. NZ’s ODA spending has been increasingly compromised under National. It has increasingly focussed on large scale infrastructure projects that also happen to involve NZ business. The emphasis is increasingly on the promotion of NZInc rather than the genuine needs of the populations we are supposedly trying to assist.
The Greens believe ODA would be much better focussed on empowering women in the Pacific and eliminating violence and building up human rights.
The Pacific Leaders Gender Equality Declaration and the Joint Statement on the Rarotonga Dialogue on Gender Equality collectively committed us to improving the status of women in the region, with a focus on support for women’s increased political and private sector representation.
NZ and Australia signed up to the Pacific Women’s Empowerment programme but the proportion of money we’re putting into this doesn’t deliver on our commitment. Now that Australia has slashed their development funding and deferred implementation of some of the women’s empowerment activities and are increasingly distorting Papua New Guinea and Nauru’s economies through the appalling asylum detention centres, it becomes even more important for us to step up with needed on the ground solutions.
To quote Helen Clarke on International Women’s day 2014:
“Grounded in international human rights, gender equality doesn’t just improve the lives of individual women, girls, and their families; it makes economic sense, strengthens democracy, and enables long-term sustainable progress.
Women with even some education tend to have fewer and healthier children, better economic opportunities, and to be more likely to ensure that their own children go to school. One of the findings of UNDP’s 2013 Human Development Report was that a mother’s education is more important to child survival than are household income or wealth.”
The government has been saying that they’ve been strategically filling funding gaps left by Australia’s contribution in the Pacific which sounded reasonable but this budget doesn’t offer any response to the massive cuts we’ve seen there.
Maybe if New Zealand was to appoint a Gender Equality Ambassador in the Pacific (instead of a fishing one!) and double the NZ contribution to UN Women from $2 million to $4 million.
This might begin to assist support gender equality in the Pacific.