In the weekend of 22-24 September, WILPF Germany gathered peace activists and young feminists to the “Rebels Against War – Anita Augspurg Award” ceremony in Verden, Germany. The weekend featured insightful talks and discussions, as well as the screening of the movie “Syria’s Rebellious Women.”

This weekend marked the 160th birthday of women’s rights activist Anita Augspurg, one of the founders of the Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom. She was born in the German city Verden, and WILPF Germany had therefore arranged an award ceremony to honour her memory and to honour the new generation of feminist activists. It was about connecting the past to the present to the future.

The participants in the event was welcomed by the mayor of Verden, who warmly acknowledged the importance of remembering the great women of history and to give them the space in our collective memory they deserve. He was followed by Barbara Lochbihler, who told the story of the life of Augspurg as well as gave a presentation of the winner of the Anita Augspurg prize, Zaina Erhaim.

Acknowledging great activist work

Erhaim was awarded the prize for her brilliant activist and feminist work, and for her film “Syria‘s Rebellious Women,” where she shows a different side of Syrian women’s lives than what is normally portrayed in mainstream media. In her ‘thank you’-speech, Erhaim highlighted the importance of challenging the idea that Syrian women are only victims, and in her work, she strives to show the variety of strength, determination and activism amongst Syrian women. As she said: “We should also tell the stories of all the strong women who oppose the regime, who speak up about rape and humiliation, who fight for justice and equality, and who don’t give up despite of the dangers imposed by the regime.”

Journalist and activist Zaina Erheim is awarded the Anita Augspurg “Rebels Against War” Prize

The film “Syria’s Rebellious Women” thus portraits some of the different effects the crisis in Syria has on the country’s women and has been made in collaboration with the Institute for War and Peace Reporting. The film was shown in the cinema in Verden on Saturday, and afterwards the audience had the opportunity to ask questions and some amongst the audience shared their own experiences as refugees from the war-torn country.

Feminist engagement of the young generation for peace and human rights

The weekend was also an opportunity for networking and knowledge-sharing among young feminist activists from various countries. On Saturday, nine young women from Germany, Tunisia Ukraine, Georgia, Poland, Denmark, Syria and Finland presented their work and their perspectives on the challenges faced by the feminist movement today. This gave the audience an insight into the many different types of activist work being conducted around the world, and it was a reminder of the importance of working together, sharing experiences and always striving to strengthen the feminist movement.

The main point of the discussion was on what challenges the women face in their work and how it is possible to engage more young women in the feminist movement and in activist work for peace, gender equality and human rights.

The importance of movement building

The Anita Augspurg award ceremony and the discussions about a feminist future that followed, are examples of the importance of movement building. In a world where we constantly experience backlash on women’s rights and freedom of expression, it becomes more and more important to strengthen the ties between women from different countries, cultures and social backgrounds. By gathering different activists as well as creating dialogue between the older and younger generations of feminists, WILPF Germany worked to strengthen the global feminist movement and the solidarity between women.

Young WILPF’ers from around the world met and discussed feminist issues