What is CODEPINK?
CODEPINK is a feminist grassroots organization working to end U.S. warfare and imperialism, support peace and human rights initiatives, and redirect resources into healthcare, education, green jobs and other life-affirming* programs. Join us!
Life-affirming programs are investments in social programs that uplift human dignity instead of tear it down. We believe universal health care must include the right to an abortion, access to education must not be determined by income bracket, and housing is a human right.
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, to hold war criminals accountable, and to end and prevent other U.S. wars and regime change efforts. We actively oppose U.S. sanctions on Iran, Venezuela, N. Korea, Cuba, as well as torture, the detention center at Guantanamo, weaponized and spy drones, and the prosecution of whistle-blowers. We support Palestinian rights, diplomacy, and growing local peace economies. Our flagship campaign is Divest from the War Machine to divest from companies that derive their profits from U.S. military interventions, the global arms trade, and the militarization of our streets.
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 non-binary, gender-non-conforming people, and men to join us.
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 to protest the U.S. led war on Iraq.
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 people committed to working for peace and social justice. We have become famous for confronting the warmongers, in the halls and hearing rooms of Congress, the national conventions of both the Republicans and Democrats, political fundraisers, and in the streets.
CODEPINK statement of nonviolence
CODEPINK is grounded in the understanding of the power of love and maintains a commitment to nonviolence in all of our actions. We understand that any violation of this commitment to nonviolence—no matter how small—may seriously damage our movement.
We define nonviolence to include the following elements:
- We will use no violence, verbal or physical, toward any person.
- We will maintain an attitude of openness and respect toward all people we encounter in our actions.
- We will not destroy any property.
- We will carry no weapons.
- We will exercise personal and collective responsibility to ensure all participants adhere to these commitments.
Pink action principles
Nonviolence: We are committed to peaceful means of protest and resolving conflict when executing our actions, in coalition work, and within our internal process and relationships.
Clear Goals: We 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 Guidelines: We write, speak, and listen with respect to all. Disagreements or disappointments are opportunities to practice peaceful and productive communication with each other. We keep our criticisms concise, specific, constructive, and focused on future improvement. We affirm a culture of appreciation, thanking and valuing all our activists and acknowledging donations, co-sponsorships, and other support.
Responsibility and Teamwork: We work in teams, sharing tasks and responsibilities, and building skills, together. 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 principles of cooperation, problem-solving, critical thinking, compassion, analysis and processing. We speak up against racism, sexism, homophobia, transphobia, classism, ageism, Islamophobia, anti-Arab racism, antisemitism, and other forms of oppression and prejudice. We 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 Knapsack."
Resource Sharing: Our logos, photos, and downloadable resources on our website are free for local groups to use. Central staff can help send email alerts for local organizers. Local groups can endorse or cosponsor local events without seeking permission from the central staff. Local groups are autonomous and are encouraged to take on national campaigns.
Messaging: We work to make the messages on our banners, flyers, and public/ social media statements clear and potent. We aim to amplify our work through positive media coverage — for example, sending press releases, conducting press calls and liaising at events, providing talking points for participants, media training for local groups, etc.
Global Community: The solidarity between CODEPINK-ers in the US and overseas strengthens our work to end US wars and drone strikes, sanctions, regime change efforts, curtail government surveillance, achieve justice for war victims, and reduce militarism worldwide. CODEPINK has taken delegations to Cuba, Iran, Palestine and other conflict zones to promote global and cultural engagement and awareness. We also participate in the global days of action for peace, international forums, and other peace and diplomacy-building events.
- Long Term Vision: We commit to working for a better world, for the long haul. We want to build what is called a “peace economy”: global community that cultivates a sense of respect for all people, and takes responsibility for the suffering we see in the world. We begin by strengthening our relationships at home through our interactions and activism. In the words of CODEPINK Cofounder Medea Benjamin, “Activism is good for our health and spirits—it keeps us engaged, active, upbeat, and passionate. 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!”