Making the "Invisible" Visible: Women and the Anti-Nuclear Resistance in the Pacific Islands
Special Reports

Making the "Invisible" Visible: Women and the Anti-Nuclear Resistance in the Pacific Islands

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In this essay, Nicole George outlines the often-overlooked role of women in the anti-nuclear movement, particularly when it comes to women in the Pacific Islands. Since the early 1980s, Pacific women have played critical roles to raise awareness of the destructive potential of nuclear weapons. This work has made the human impacts of nuclear testing programs in the Pacific visible and challenged nuclear-armed nations’ determination to focus only on the strategic value of these weapons as critical to their defence and security.  This article discusses the extraordinary breadth of women’s anti-nuclear activity and the impacts of their awareness-raising campaigns, public protests, political addresses, as well as their theological and literary writing.  It shows this work to have traversed national, regional, and international contexts laying the  foundations for the establishment of international anti-nuclear treaties in later decades.

This essay was produced as part of a project on Nuclear Disarmament and the Anthropocene: Voices from Pacific Island Countries, sponsored by Ploughshares Fund.

About the Author

Nicole George is an Associate Professor in the School of Political Science and International Studies at the University of Queensland. Nicole’s research focuses on the gendered politics of conflict and peacebuilding, violence, security and participation. She has a strong interest in feminist institutional theory, as well as conceptual debates on regulatory pluralism and contested notions of (gendered) order as they are evident in local and global politics. Since the early 2000s, she has conducted research in the Pacific Islands region focusing on gender politics, gendered security and post conflict transition in Fiji, New Caledonia, Bougainville and Solomon Islands. She has worked in collaboration with women’s organisations, women decision-makers and women policy-makers in these settings to progress aspects of this work. She has led large, externally funded, comparative research projects examining how women’s rights to security are institutionalised in Pacific Island countries (2013-2016) and where and how women participate in post-conflict transformation (as part of a broader collaborative ARC Linkage Project (2016-2020). Aside from the scholarly publications listed below, she has made influential contributions to national and regional intergovernmental policy forums on gender, security and development programs and is a regular contributor to national and regional on-line opinion editorial sites.

Disclaimer: The opinions articulated in this work represent the views of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the position of the Asia-Pacific Leadership Network or any of its members. The APLN’s website is a source of authoritative research and analysis and serves as a platform for debate and discussion among our senior network members, experts and practitioners, as well as the next generation of policymakers, analysts and advocates. Comments and responses can be emailed to

Image: Darlene Keju in a 1995 photo leads Youth to Youth in Health members in a lively song as part of a community health outreach program in Majuro. Photo by Giff Johnson.

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