Ray Acheson, Canada/Ireland
Opinion polls have a clear language: the majority of people in almost every country favours disarmament and the prohibition of nuclear weapons. How come that even democratic governments do not always listen to the voice of people when it comes to those particularly destructive weapons? One most likely reason is that most governmental officials and diplomats are men, often thrilled by the geopolitical potential of this weapon of mass destruction. Therefore, making the voices of women heard is an integral part in the search for solutions to make a nuclear weapons free world happen. Without the interference of women there will be no Global Zero.
Ray Acheson is one of those women that have raised their voice. And she has demonstrated in various ways that women have a word to say and achieved that their specific interests are considered in international nuclear arms control. Since 2005, she has been involved with intergovernmental disarmament processes, and is one of the most active authors of reporting and gendered analysis on weapons and the international arms trade.
Most of the monitoring she does herself when she is present in conference and negotiations oft he United Nations. She provides analysis, research and advocacy across a range of disarmament and arms control issues from an antimilitarist feminist perspective. Further focus of her engagement and study lies on war profiteering and the patriachal and racist structures of war and armed violence.
An important part of Rays work is connecting civil society organizations and empowering them through network coordination. As a result, their impact on global policy making and negotiations has been significantly strengthened on matters of security and disarmament in recent years. Ray is the Director of Reaching Critical Will (RCW), the disarmament programme of the oldest women’s peace organization in the world, the Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom (WILPF). Ray is also active on the Board of Directors of the Los Alamos Study Group and contributes to the work of the Arms Control Association. She is member of several coalition steering groups, including the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN), the Campaign to Stop Killer Robors, and the International Network on Explosive Weapons.
Through her comprehensive political work about how conflict and gender-based violence are intimately related and specifically affect the nuclear realm, she has decisively promoted the recognition of the importance of women’s participation in nuclear disarmament and arms control negotiations, policies and practices.
One of the most compelling results of her focus on the humanitarian and gender aspects of nuclear weapons is the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons (TPNW) which underlines the humanitarian impact of nuclear weapons specifically in relation to women and girls because of the impact that ionising radiation physically has on women and girl’s bodies. This has been a milestone in international diplomacy on nuclear arms control.