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We Will Continue to Advocate for Permanent Peace

More than 100 individuals gathered on 11 May 2019 to celebrate the 100th anniversary of WILPF’s 2nd Congress that took place in 1919 in Zurich. The event was the opportunity to remember this important moment of WILPF’s herstory and to reflect on the accomplishments of the past decades.

Image credit: WILPF
WILPF International Secretariat
16 May 2019

More than 100 individuals gathered on 11 May 2019 to celebrate the 100th anniversary of WILPF’s 2nd Congress that took place in 1919 in Zurich. The event was the opportunity to remember this important moment of WILPF’s history and to reflect on the accomplishments of the past decades.

As emphasised by our International President, Joy Ada Onyesoh, the fundamental pillars upon which the 1919 Congress was held are still relevant today as wars and conflicts are still happening all around the globe. She asked the audience to reflect on their individual responsibility as to what is happening in the world today, and how we can sustain the feminist peace movement. She concluded by saying that “We are united in the struggle and in the common fight for women’s rights and for feminist peace. We should not allow men created barriers to divide us and to stereotype us. We must continue to speak the language and message of peace. Non-violence has always been our tool, and it cannot change. Violence cannot defeat violence.”

Re-enactment play of the Zurich 1919 Congress with actresses playing Anita Augspurg, Clara Ragaz, Chrystal Macmillan, Jane Addams, Aletta Jacob and Rosa Genomi.
The event started with a re-enactment play of the Zurich 1919 Congress. From right to left, you see actresses playing Anita Augspurg, Clara Ragaz, Chrystal Macmillan, Jane Addams, Aletta Jacob and Rosa Genomi respectively. Photo credits: Sheila Góis Habib

A Jump in the Past

The highlight of the event was when women dressed up in 1919 costumes re-enacted the 1919 Congress in a theatre play.

Back in 1919, these women included in their resolutions to be presented to the Peace Conference of the winning countries in Paris, elements such as equal opportunities for men and women, equal pay for equal work, a women’s rights internationally recognised treaty, the abolition of the death penalty, the need to eradicate racism, but most importantly, the need to establish peace and total disarmament.

Camerawoman recording the play.
Photo credits: Sheila Gois Habib

Margrethe Tingstad, WILPF’s Vice-President, played Martha Larsen, one of the five Norwegian delegates that came to the 1919 Congress. She said it was, clearly, important to celebrate 100 years of what we have achieved so far, but that it is fundamental that we are all willing to learn from history. Sylvie Ndongmo, WILPF Africa Regional Representative, described the re-enactment play as “a powerful experience, where women came together to make the world a better place and are still doing it 100 years later.”

Following the play, there were six workshops where WILPF members discussed amongst other topics, how to reclaim the UN as a peace organisation, how to achieve total disarmament, how to implement peace education and environmental justice, and gender justice.

We were also glad to have with us, documentary director Charlotte Bill. Her previous work includes a documentary about the 1st WILPF Congress in 1915, and she is now following up on this film with a second documentary in which the 1919 WILPF Congress plays a major role. During the event, she filmed the re-enactment play which will be included in the upcoming documentary. It is to be released in August 2019.

In the aftermath of the play, members highlighted that the resolutions from 1919 still reflect the challenges we face today to achieve permanent peace. Nonetheless, most of the attendees reported feeling inspired to continue to advocate for women’s rights and for feminist peace.

WILPF members reflected on what we must do differently to achieve progress in the upcoming years. Amongst other solutions, there was an emphasis on the need to make peace exciting for men, in particular, young men so that our goal of sustainable and permanent peace can be achieved.

For more information click here.

100th anniversary of the 1919 Congress

  • 100 individuals attended the event on 11 May 2019.
  • Took place in the Glockenhof-Hotel in Zurich, just like it did 100 years ago.
  • Organised by the Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom, the Swiss Peace Council, and Women for Peace.
  • Co-funded by the Europe for Citizens Programme of the European Union.
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WILPF International Secretariat

WILPF International Secretariat, with offices in Geneva and New York, liaises with the International Board and the National Sections and Groups for the implementation of WILPF International Programme, resolutions and policies as adopted by the International Congress. Under the direction of the Secretary-General, the Secretariat also provides support in areas of advocacy, communications, and financial operations.

WILPF Afghanistan

In response to the takeover of Afghanistan by the Taliban and its targeted attacks on civil society members, WILPF Afghanistan issued several statements calling on the international community to stand in solidarity with Afghan people and ensure that their rights be upheld, including access to aid. The Section also published 100 Untold Stories of War and Peace, a compilation of true stories that highlight the effects of war and militarisation on the region. 

IPB Congress Barcelona

WILPF Germany (+Young WILPF network), WILPF Spain and MENA Regional Representative

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Demilitarisation

WILPF uses feminist analysis to argue that militarisation is a counter-productive and ill-conceived response to establishing security in the world. The more society becomes militarised, the more violence and injustice are likely to grow locally and worldwide.

Sixteen states are believed to have supplied weapons to Afghanistan from 2001 to 2020 with the US supplying 74 % of weapons, followed by Russia. Much of this equipment was left behind by the US military and is being used to inflate Taliban’s arsenal. WILPF is calling for better oversight on arms movement, for compensating affected Afghan people and for an end to all militarised systems.

Militarised masculinity

Mobilising men and boys around feminist peace has been one way of deconstructing and redefining masculinities. WILPF shares a feminist analysis on the links between militarism, masculinities, peace and security. We explore opportunities for strengthening activists’ action to build equal partnerships among women and men for gender equality.

WILPF has been working on challenging the prevailing notion of masculinity based on men’s physical and social superiority to, and dominance of, women in Afghanistan. It recognizes that these notions are not representative of all Afghan men, contrary to the publicly prevailing notion.

Feminist peace​

In WILPF’s view, any process towards establishing peace that has not been partly designed by women remains deficient. Beyond bringing perspectives that encapsulate the views of half of the society and unlike the men only designed processes, women’s true and meaningful participation allows the situation to improve.

In Afghanistan, WILPF has been demanding that women occupy the front seats at the negotiating tables. The experience of the past 20 has shown that women’s presence produces more sustainable solutions when they are empowered and enabled to play a role.

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