What is CODEPINK?
CODEPINK is a women-led grassroots organization working to end U.S. wars and militarism, support peace and human rights initiatives, and redirect our tax dollars into healthcare, education, green jobs and other life-affirming programs. We also aspire to create the foundations of the society we want to live in by building peace economies locally.
What we do
Founded in fall 2002 as a grassroots effort to prevent the US war on Iraq, we continue to organize for justice for Iraqis and to hold war criminals accountable. We actively oppose the continuing U.S. war in Afghanistan, torture, the detention center at Guantanamo, weaponized and spy drones, the prosecution of whistleblowers, U.S. support for the Israeli occupation of Palestine and repressive regimes.
How we do it
Rooted in a network of local organizers, online supporters and generous donors, with an emphasis on joy and humor, our tactics include satire, street theatre, creative visuals, civil resistance, and directly challenging powerful decision-makers in government and corporations. And of course, wearing pink!
CODEPINK is not exclusively women — we invite men to join us — -but we are particularly eager to see mothers, grandmothers, sisters, and daughters, female workers, students, teachers, healers, artists, writers, singers, poets and all outraged woman rise up and oppose the global militarism.
How did we get started?
Medea Benjamin, Jodie Evans, Diane Wilson, Starhawk and about 100 other women kicked off CODEPINK on November 17, 2002. We set up for a 4-month all-day vigil in front of the White House during the cold of winter.
The vigil inspired people from all walks of life, and from all over the country, to stand for peace. Many organizations joined us, including Global Exchange, Greenpeace, WILPF, WAND, Public Citizen, NOW, Women for Women International and Neighbors for Peace and Justice. The vigil culminated on March 8, International Women's Day, when we celebrated women as global peacemakers with a week of activities, rallies and a march to encircle the White House in pink.
Over 10,000 people participated, and a group of 25 women, including Alice Walker, Maxine Hong Kingston, Susan Griffin, Starhawk, Jodie Evans and Medea Benjamin, were arrested for taking our peaceful protest right up to the White House gate.
CODEPINK thus emerged out of a deep desire by a group of American women to stop the United States from invading Iraq. The name CODEPINK plays on the former Bush Administration's color-coded homeland security alerts — yellow, orange, red — that signaled terrorist threats. While Bush's color-coded alerts were based on fear and were used to justify violence, the CODEPINK alert is a feisty call for people to "wage peace."
Since then CODEPINK has become a worldwide network of women and men committed to working for peace and social justice. We have become famous for confronting the warmongers, whether in the halls and hearing rooms of Congress, the national conventions of both the Republicans and Democrats, George Bush's fundraisers, the publicity tours of Karl Rove, Condi Rice, Donald Rumsfeld and others, and Nancy Pelosi's house.
Pink action principles
Nonviolence: We are committed to peace, which means both when executing our action(s) AND within our internal structure and relationships.
Clear Goals: We will define CODEPINK's unique niche in our community (creative protest, cultivating women's voices, etc.) and set attainable goals for local projects that will further CODEPINK's peace mission.
Communication, Respect, and Integrity: We avow to not let disagreements, hurt feelings, or disappointments, get in the way of our important peace work, and will instead view these challenges as opportunities to practice peaceful and productive communication with each other. We will keep our criticisms concise, specific, constructive and focused on future improvement.
- Responsibility and Teamwork: We work as a team, with activists willing to bottom-line, coordinate, and facilitate actions. We won't let all the responsibility repeatedly fall on one person, and we will not allow ourselves to assume all the responsibility for an action—instead we'll delegate tasks, take on organizing roles, and rotate our leadership positions. We agree to be responsible for something only when we're 100% sure we are going to do it.
Diversity and Tolerance: We embrace feminist principals of cooperation, problem-solving, critical thinking, compassion, analysis and processing. We will speak up against racism, sexism, homophobia, transphobia, classism, ageism, and other forms of oppression and prejudice. We will work towards a deeper understanding of our own power and privileges, and seek to cultivate a diverse local group with connections to the array of social justice groups in our cities. We highly recommend that every activist read this piece about recognizing privilege, entitled "Unpacking the Invisible Backpack."
- Resource Sharing: CODEPINK does not require official affiliation or traditional “membership” to speak, act, or protest with us. Anyone who is acting for peace can be CODEPINK! Our logos, photos, and the downloadable resources on our website are free for local groups to use. Central staff can help send email alerts and provide local contact info for local organizers. Our ideas and campaigns are freely available to any peace or justice group that wishes to adapt our tactics for their use. Local groups can endorse or cosponsor local events in the name of their local CODEPINK group without seeking permission from the central staff. Local groups are autonomous and are invited to take on national campaigns as appropriate or interested. We are a grassroots movement with a central organizing team.
Appreciation and Caring: We will support each other to take risks and take on key roles in organizing actions, and cultivate a spirit of sustainable activism to prevent burnout. Support may include delegating work into small portions, providing childcare or encouraging mothers to bring their children to meetings and actions, taking on realizable projects, providing new activist trainings, and modeling healthy civic engagement and personal time. We will build a culture of appreciation, thanking and valuing all the work that people put into our actions and local group, awarding pink badges of courage, and acknowledging donations, cosponsors, and support.
Messaging: We will work to make the messages on our banners, flyers, and public statements clear and potent. We will do everything possible to ensure positive media coverage -- for example, doing press releases, press calls, press liaison at events, talking points for participants, media trainings for group, etc.
Global Community: CODEPINK's work to end the war in Iraq was created by over 250 local groups in the US, and over a dozen international groups. The solidarity between CODEPINK sisters in the US and overseas strengthens our work. International pressure and raising awareness globally about US militarization is integral to ending unjust wars. We will ensure that our campaigns can, when possible, speak to domestic and global tactics for ending the war.
Long Term Vision: We are in this for the long haul—we know that the US occupation of Iraq will not end until all the troops come home and successful rebuilding of Iraq has begun, as well as the healing of the returning soldiers and the Iraqi people. In the words of CODEPINK Cofounder Medea Benjamin, “Activism is good for our health and spirits—it keeps us engaged, active, upbeat, and passionate. It's no fun being depressed alone. Ending war may take a long time, and we can use that time to inspire ourselves and each other with positive, creative actions that embody the world we want to see!”