Women’s Action for New Directions (WAND) is a nonprofit organization that was established in 1982 as “Women’s Action for Nuclear Disarmament.” At the end of the Cold War, the group changed its name and expanded its vision to include demilitarization and the promotion of leftist female political candidates. Among WAND’s current objectives are: eliminating the Robust Nuclear Earth Penetrator (bunker buster) bombs from the U.S. arsenal; abandoning efforts to establish a missile defense system; repealing the Patriot Act; and pulling all American troops out of Iraq. When the Iraq War was in its earlist phase, WAND stated: “This U.S.-led war will threaten our economy, jeopardize our security, and cost countless lives. Severe cuts are already being made to vital programs in federal and state budgets even before paying for this war. This war will intensify hatred of the U.S. and spawn a whole new generation of terrorists. We hope that after the war comes to an end, we will reclaim some of our spirit by providing the victims of this tragedy with the humanitarian aid necessary to rebuild their lives and country.”
In September 2006, WAND spokeswoman Amanda Hendler-Voss wrote: “I had great hopes that out of our grief and lament [over 9/11] would emerge a stronger nation, more compassionate to the world around us … My grief curdled into anger when our national leadership … called for vengeance, perpetuating the cycle of violence. I knew our best option was not a hasty resort to war … I come from a religious tradition that urges me to love the enemy. And, as a woman who is always suspect of any good emerging from violence, I wasn’t convinced that answering the attacks of 9/11 with a military response was the best use of the trust the American people had invested in our leaders. … [W]e can create an exit strategy in Iraq, eliminate the bloat in Pentagon spending (especially on obsolete weapons systems, such as the failed missile defense program), and increase funding for diplomacy and humanitarian programs which prevent terrorism by addressing the root causes of instability.”
Rejecting military options under any and all circumstances, WAND asserts: “War is no longer tenable. There are always alter natives to war.” In one part of its website, however, the organization does make allowance for the possibility, however remote, that military force might be required in some instances: “If military intervention is called for and agreed upon by the international community, it should be carried out by trained peace-keeping forces under international super vision. We support the United Nations and other forums for international cooperation and international law, which provide the greatest source of security for the people of the United States and the world.”
WAND supports HR 4898, known as the Common Sense Budget Act, which would would take 17 percent of the Pentagon budget ($60 billion) and, as WAND explains, “reallocate it to programs that do make us safer and healthier: providing health insurance to children who lack it, rebuilding public schools, cutting reliance on foreign oil, and more!”
Not limiting itself to taking positions on issues of war and peace, WAND was a Cosponsoring Organization of the April 25, 2004 “March for Women’s Lives” held in Washington, D.C., a rally that advocated unrestricted access to taxpayer-funded abortion-on-demand.
WAND is a founding member of the United for Peace and Justice antiwar coalition. It is also a member organization of Abolition 2000 and the Win Without War coalitions. In addition, WAND collaborated with the Marxist-Leninist organization International ANSWER in organizing a string of massive peace rallies in late September 2003, demonstrations timed to coincide with the third anniversary of the launching of Yasser Arafat‘s second Intifada against Israel.
WAND counts the following among its “partner organizations”: the Association for Addiction Professionals; the Children’s Defense Fund; Citizen Alert; the Feminist Women’s Health Center; the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence; the National Priorities Project; 9 to 5 – Atlanta Working Women; On The Rise; Peace Action; People for the American Way; the Racial and Cultural Diversity Commission; Women Against Military Madness; the Women of Color Resource Center; Women’s Edge; the Women’s Intercultural Network; the Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom; the Women’s Project; and the YWCA of Metro Detroit.
WAND’s major program areas include the following:
(a) Women Legislators’ Lobby (WiLL): Formed in 1991 and composed of one-third of all female legislators in the United States, WiLL seeks to “persuade Congress to redirect excessive military spending toward unmet human and environmental needs”; “address women’s health issues”; “eliminate violence against women”; and “curb the proliferation of weapons.” This Lobby spreads its message via workshops, policy briefings, and professional development programs. A subsection of WiLL is Trailblazers, a network of more than 300 “former women legislators whose contacts and influence continue to have an impact on national priorities and foreign policy issues.”
(b) Students’ Action for New Directions: Created in 1999, this program is intended “to empower young women to act politically, encouraging them to vote and connect with legislators across the country, to promote peace, equality, and progressive social change.”
(c) WAND Education Fund: This Funds seeks to “challenge and promote alternatives to militarism and violence as the solution to conflict; shift from a military- to a civilian-based economy to address the threats to our real security …; clean up environmental effects of nuclear weapons production as well as toxic waste at all military facilities, and prevent further contamination; eliminate the testing, production, sale and use of weapons of mass destruction; prevent violence against women; [and] increase women’s political leadership to further WAND’s goals.”
(d) WAND Political Action Committee: This entity supports women who run for Congress and who “advocate for peace and justice.”
WAND’s current Chair is Jo Carson, an attorney who served two terms in the Arkansas General Assembly. Executive Director Susan Shaer, who is married to Massachusetts state representative Jim Marzilli, was a founder of Win Without War.