September 10, 1952
Freeport, New York
|Residence||San Francisco, California|
New School for Social Research
|Occupation||Political activist, author|
Medea Benjamin (born Susan Benjamin on September 10, 1952) is an American political activist, best known for co-founding Code Pink and, along with her husband, activist and author Kevin Danaher, fair trade advocacy group Global Exchange. Benjamin also was a Green Party candidate in 2000 for the United States Senate.
The Los Angeles Times has described her as "one of the high profile leaders" of the peace movement and in 1999, San Francisco Magazine included her on its "power list" of the "60 Players Who Rule the Bay Area."
Early life 
Benjamin grew up on Long Island, New York, a self-described "nice Jewish girl." During her freshman year at Tufts University, she renamed herself after the Greek mythological character Medea. She received master's degrees in public health from Columbia University and in economics from The New School.
Benjamin worked for 10 years as an economist and nutritionist in Latin America and Africa for the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization, the World Health Organization, the Swedish International Development Agency, and the Institute for Food and Development Policy. She spent four years in Cuba, and has authored three books on the country.
In 1988 with Kevin Danaher, her husband, and Kirsten Moller, Benjamin co-founded the San Francisco-based Global Exchange, which advocates fair trade alternatives to what she describes as corporate globalization. In 2002, She is co-founded the left-wing feminist anti-war group Code Pink: Women for Peace, which advocated an end to the Iraq War, the prevention of future wars, and social justice. Benjamin has also been involved with the left-wing anti-war organization United for Peace and Justice.
She later went on to create the Occupation Watch Center in Baghdad (IOWC) to monitor the US military and the war’s effect on civilian populations. Through this center she brought U.S. military family members to see the conditions of their children and to speak out against the war in Congress and the UN in 2003.
In 2005 she was one of 1,000 exemplary women from 140 countries nominated to receive the Nobel Peace Prize on behalf of the millions of women who do the essential work of peace worldwide. In 2010 she received the Martin Luther King, Jr. Peace Prize from the Fellowship of Reconciliation. She has received numerous peace awards, including the 2012 Marjorie Kellogg National Peacemaker Award, the 2012 Thomas Merton Center Peace Award, and the 2012 Peace Foundation Memorial Award "in recognition of her creative leadership on the front lines of the antiwar movement." 
In 2000, Benjamin ran for the United States Senate on the Green Party ticket from California, basing her campaign on such issues as a living wage, education, and universal healthcare; she garnered 3 percent of the vote. Since then she has remained active in the Green Party and has also supported efforts by the Progressive Democrats of America.  She is a member of the Liberty Tree Board of Advisers.
Protest actions 
From 2002 to 2009, Benjamin engaged in numerous protests involving U.S. Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld; U.S. President George W. Bush; U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice; and Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, among others. Benjamin engaged in similar protest actions at the 2004 Democratic National Convention and the 2004 Republican National Convention. On December 4, 2007, she was arrested by plainclothes police in Lahore, Pakistan, detained by the ISI for eight hours, and deported after protesting the house arrest of lawyers (including Aitzaz Ahsan). In 2009, Benjamin joined the steering committee for the Gaza Freedom March. In February 2012 Benjamin was arrested and deported for illegal entry to Bahrain and participating in an illegal protest.
From 2005-2010, she worked against threats of going to war with Iran, including lobbying Congress, taking Peace Delegations to Iran, and bringing Iranian youth to Congress.
Organization efforts 
Labor rights and corporate responsibility 
During the 1990s, Benjamin focused her efforts on tackling the problem of unfair trade as promoted by the World Trade Organization. Credited as the woman who brought Nike to its knees[weasel words] and helped place the issue of sweatshops on the national agenda, Benjamin was a key player in the campaign that won a $20 million settlement from 27 US clothing retailers for the use of sweatshop labor in Saipan.
In 2000, she helped champion a campaign to pressure Starbucks to carry fair trade coffee in all their cafes. As a result, in October 2000, Starbucks introduced whole bean Fair Trade Certified coffee at over 2,300 stores.
For much of 2001, Benjamin focused on California's energy crisis, fighting the market manipulation by the big energy companies and rate hikes that cause hardship for low-income ratepayers and small businesses. She headed a powerful coalition of consumer, environmental, union and business leaders working for clean and affordable power under public control.
In September 2003, Benjamin was in Cancun, Mexico challenging the policies of the World Trade Organization (WTO) and in November in Miami protesting the proposed Free Trade Area of the Americas (FTAA), and highlighting the coalescing of the global peace and economic justice movements.
During the World Trade Organization meeting in Seattle in December 1999, Benjamin's organization, Global Exchange, helped fix world attention on the need to place labor and environmental concerns over corporate profits.
While critical of unfair global trade policies, Benjamin has promoted "fair trade" alternatives that are beneficial to both producer and consumer. She helped form a national network of retailer and wholesalers in support of fair trade and was instrumental in pressuring coffee retailers such as Starbucks to start carrying fair trade coffee.
Benjamin is a key figure in the anti-sweatshop movement, having spearheaded campaigns against the giant sports shoe company Nike and clothing companies such as the GAP. In 1999 Benjamin helped expose the problem of indentured servitude among garment workers in the US territory of Saipan (the Marianas Islands), which led to a billion-dollar lawsuit against 17 US retailers. In 1999, she produced the documentary "Sweating For A T-Shirt" about the sweatshop industry.
After several fact-finding visits to China, Benjamin co-sponsored with the International Labor Rights Fund an initiative to improve the labor and environmental practices of US multinationals in China. The ensuring Human Rights Principles for US Businesses in China have been endorsed by major companies such as Cisco, Intel, Reebok, Levi Strauss and Mattel.
In 2006, Benjamin organized humanitarian aid for war refugees in Lebanon and spoke out against Israeli bombing. In 2008 during the Operation Cast Lead Israeli invasion of Gaza, she organized a daily protest at the hotel where President-elect Barack Obama was staying, and then went to Gaza to see the immediate effects of the bombing. She brought humanitarian aid and helped put together six other delegations to Gaza. She was one of the lead organizers of the Gaza Freedom March, where 1,350 people from dozens of countries came together in Cairo to try to march to Gaza. helped organize delegations to Gaza of both people and humanitarian aid. She spoke out across the country regarding the need to stop giving Israel $3 billion in US tax-dollars, lobbied Congress and sailed on the U.S. Flotilla to Gaza in November 2011. Days after Israel launched its Pillar of Defense invasion of Gaza in November 2012, Benjamin led an Emergency delegation and delivered medical supplies to the Shifa hospital and the Palestinian Red Crescent in Gaza. She also helps organize a yearly gathering in Washington DC to expose the negative influence of the US lobby group AIPAC (American-Israel Public Affairs Committee).
As part of CODEPINK’s mission, Benjamin helped organize many International Women’s Day Marches and Mother’s Days Calls for Peace, the latter to bring back the original intent of Mother’s Day as women mobilizing against war. These included bringing women from war torn countries such as Iraq, Palestine and Afghanistan to the U.S. to speak about their experiences. Between 2003 and 2010, Benjamin helped organized anti-war mass mobilizations in Washington, DC, New York City and San Francisco.
Benjamin organized the campaign Bring Our War Dollars Home, which fought to divert money from the Pentagon into social programs at home. This campaign culminated in the passage of a national resolution by the U.S. Conference of Mayors to end the wars and redirect the monies to our cities.
After the US invaded Iraq, she created the Occupation Watch Center in Baghdad  to monitor the US military and the war’s effect on civilian populations. Through this center she brought Iraqi women to the US to speak about the occupation, organized delegations of U.S. military family members to see the conditions of their children serving in Iraq, and documented US abuses, including at Abu Ghraib prison scandal long before the scandal broke in the US media. She also organized medical aid delegations to Iraq to civilians harmed by the US military.
In 2005, she focused on the abuses of US military contractors such as Halliburton, the goal of which was to expose the awarding of corrupt no-bid contracts to corporations with close ties to the Bush administrations. Along with this, Benjamin also exposed Blackwater Worldwide’s illegal activities, including protests at the headquarters of the International Association of War Contractors.
In opposition to indefinite detention in Guantanamo, in 2007, Benjamin organized a delegation of prisoners’ family members to Guantanamo Naval Base prison camp in Cuba, demanding its closing. In 2007 as well, she continued to protest weekly outside the Justice Department concerning water boarding and indefinite detention, and called for the resignation of Attorney General Alberto Gonzales. She was arrested many times for protests in Congressional hearings. In 2008, she organized the Valentine’s Day Kiss-Ins at military recruiting centers across the country.
In 2009 Benjamin began her efforts to bring attention to the effects of drone warfare, participating in demonstrations at US bases where drones are piloted and at headquarters of drone manufacturers. On April 28, 2012 in Washington, D.C., she was responsible for organizing the first ever International Drone Summit with lawyers, scientists, academics, and activists to kick off an international campaign to rein in the use of drones in the U.S. and abroad,
On April 30, 2012, Benjamin bemoaned the "innocent civilians murdered" by drone strikes in Pakistan, Somalia, and Yemen, by interrupting a speech on United States counterterrorism strategy given by John Brennan at the Woodrow Wilson Center. Benjamin was dragged away by security, and although her protest aired live on C-SPAN, the Wilson Center deleted the history of the incident from their records by editing the video and transcript so as to make it appear as though Benjamin's protest never occurred.
In October 2012 she organized a 34-person delegation to Pakistan to protest U.S. drone warfare. While in Pakistan she met with drone victims and family members, lawyers, academics, women's groups, and Pakistani leaders, as well as the U.S. Ambassador to Pakistan. The delegation made international headlines when they joined a caravan to Waziristan organized by political leader Imran Khan. (See CNN video, the New York Times, the Washington Post, Al Jazeera, the BBC, and over 100 major news outlet, 09/28-10/14/2012. She also organized a public fast in Islamabad in sympathy with drone victims.
In 2012, she authored Drone Warfare: Killing by Remote Control, published by OR books, and toured the country speaking out against drone warfare.
- Bridging the Global Gap: A Handbook to Linking Citizens of the First and Third Worlds (1989). With Andrea Freedman. Global Exchange / Seven Locks Press. ISBN 0-932020-73-9
- No Free Lunch: Food and Revolution in Cuba Today (1989). With Joseph Collins and Michael Scott. Princeton University Press. ISBN 0-935028-52-8
- Don't Be Afraid, Gringo: A Honduran Woman Speaks From The Heart: The Story of Elvia Alvarado (1989). Harper Perennial. ISBN 0-06-097205-X
- Greening of the Revolution: Cuba's Experiment with Organic Agriculture (1995). With Peter Rossett. Ocean Press. ISBN 1-875284-80-X
- Cuba: Talking About Revolution: Conversations with Juan Antonio Blanco (1996). With Juan Antonio Blanco. Inner Ocean Publishing. ISBN 1-875284-97-4
- Benedita Da Silva: An Afro-Brazilian Woman's Story of Politics and Love (1997). With Benedita da Silva and Maisa Mendonca. Institute for Food and Development Policy. ISBN 0-935028-70-6
- The Peace Corps and More: 175 Ways to Work, Study and Travel at Home & Abroad (1997). With Miya Rodolfo-Sioson. Global Exchange / Seven Locks Press. ISBN 0-929765-04-4
- I, Senator: How, together, we transformed the state of California and the United States (2000). Green Press.
- How to Stop the Next War Now: Effective Responses to Violence and Terrorism (2005). As editor, with Jodie Evans. Inner Ocean Publishing. ISBN 1-930722-49-4
- Drone Warfare: Killing by Remote Control (2012). OR Books. ISBN 978-1-935928-81-2
See also 
- Garofoli, Joe. "S.F. Woman's Relentless March for Peace." San Francisco Chronicle. October 26, 2002
- "US Peace Registry: Individuals". US Peace Memorial. Retrieved 2013-01-10.
- "Founders & Staff: Medea Benjamin". Code Pink. Retrieved 2013-01-10.
- "Medea Benjamin Awarded 2012 Peace Prize". US Peace Memorial. Retrieved 2013-01-10.
- [dead link]
- Medea Benjamin, Peter Coyote, John Eder, Daniel Ellsberg et al. (July 23, 2004). "An Open Letter to Progressives: Vote Kerry and Cobb". CommonDreams.
- "Medea Benjamin to Speak at Summit 2005". Progressive Democrats of America. Retrieved September 1, 2006.[dead link]
- "VIDEO: Maliki Speech Interrupted By War Protester". Think Progress Blog. July 26, 2006.
- "Update: US peace activists released". Common Dreams.org. December 4, 2007.
- "Pakistani police arrest activists". Khabrein.info. December 5, 2007.
- Gaza protest planned on Cast Lead anniversary 05-12-2009, Andrew Bossone, Al-Masry Al-Youm.[dead link]
- "Thugs attack police after funeral". Gulf Daily News. February 18, 2012.
- "Rioters on rampage". Gulf Daily News. February 18, 2012.
- "Saipan lawsuit terms OKd / Garment workers to get $20 million". San Francisco Chronicle. April 25, 2003. Retrieved 2013-01-10.
- "Starbucks Campaign". Global Exchange. Retrieved 2013-01-10.
- "Medea Benjamin". WIMN’s Voices. Retrieved 2013-01-10.
- "Medea Benjamin". Global Exchange. Retrieved 2013-01-10.
- "Medea Benjamin Runs for U.S. Senate On Green Party Line". Democracy Now. Retrieved 2013-01-10.
- "Sweating for a t-shirt". The Sociology Video Project. Retrieved 2013-01-10.
- "Activist, Green Party Candidate to Speak at Middle East forum on Wednesday". Fresno State News. April 2002. Retrieved 2013-01-10.
- "CODEPINK : Support GAZA!". Codepink4peace.org. Retrieved 2013-01-10.
- "Bring Our War $$ Home". Bringourwardollarshome.org. Retrieved 2013-01-10.
- Glantz, Aaron (January 9, 2007). "On Guantanamo Prison Camp's Fifth Birthday, New Pressure to Shut It Down". Common Dreams. Retrieved 2013-01-10.
- Benjamin, Medea (May 2, 2012). "‘Shame on You’: Why I interrupted Obama counter-terrorism adviser John Brennan". Archived from the original on July 30, 2012.
- "What About The Hundreds Of Innocent People WE Are Killing With OUR Drone Strikes In Pakistan!" (YouTube). C-SPAN. May 2, 2012. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xXj7YfLRx5I.
- Brennan, John (April 30, 2012). "The Efficacy and Ethics of U.S. Counterterrorism Strategy". Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars. Archived from the original on July 30, 2012,.
- The Efficacy and Ethics of U.S. Counterterrorism Strategy - John Brennan (YouTube). Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars. May 1, 2012. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cM4mCEXi5v4.
- "CODEPINK : CODEPINK Peace Delegation to Pakistan". Codepink4peace.org. Retrieved 2013-01-10.
- "CNN Coverage of CODEPINK Stop Drones Delegation in Pakistan". YouTube. Retrieved 2013-01-10.
- McDonald, Mark (October 7, 2012). "Western Peace Activists Protest in Pakistan Against Drone Strikes". International Herald Tribune. Retrieved 2013-01-10.
- Leiby, Richard (October 7, 2012). "Imran Khan and Codepink blocked from tribal area". The Washington Post. Retrieved 2013-01-10.
- "Medea Benjamin interviewed on Al Jazeera about CODEPINK Delegation in Pakistan". Drones Watch. October 8, 2012. Retrieved 2013-01-10.
- "Pakistan Delegation News". Code Pink. Retrieved 2013-01-10.
- "NEW Book: Drone Warfare: Killing by Remote Control". Code Pink. Retrieved 2013-01-10.
- OR Books Retrieved August 19, 2012
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to: Medea Benjamin|
- Works by or about Medea Benjamin in libraries (WorldCat catalog)
- Global Exchange biographical page
- Code Pink biographical page
- Common Ground profile
- Bio from 2000 CA Senate campaign
- I, Senator, book from 2000 CA Senate campaign and Bay Guardian coverage at archive.org