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. Join us!
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 non-binary, gender-non-conforming people, and men to join us. We are particularly eager to see mothers, grandmothers, sisters, and daughters, female workers, students, teachers, healers, artists, writers, singers, poets and all outraged women rise up and oppose 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.
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 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 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 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: Our logos, photos, and the 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 will 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: CODEPINK's work to end the war in Iraq was shared by 250 local groups in the US and a dozen international groups. The solidarity between CODEPINK-ers in the US and overseas strengthens our work to end US wars and drone strikes, curtail government surveillance, bring justice to war victims, and reduce militarism worldwide. CODEPINK has taken delegations to Cuba, Iran, Israel-Palestine and other conflict zones to promote global and cultural engagement and awareness. We also participate in the Global Day of Action on Military Spending, international forums on war and peace, 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 can 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!”