Women’s power to stop war: 100 years of WILPF

On 28 April 1915, about 1300 women met in The Hague to oppose World War I. Right there and then, they initiated the birth of the longest surviving women’s peace organisation in the world, the Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom (WILPF).

Today WILPF members, hundreds of partner organisations, governments, academics and students are gathering in The Hague to participate in our 100th anniversary celebration. WILPF is hosting an international conference over the next three days, the objective of which is to discuss how to prevent and stop wars, to promote the principles of permanent peace, and to encourage gender diversity participate in peace making. The Conference will highlight issues relevant to peacemaking that are often overlooked by the international community as reflected by the WILPF Integrated Approach, combining human rights, disarmament, and the Women, Peace and Security agenda to reach sustainable, global peace, based on human rights and the dignity of humankind.

WILPF has for 100 years worked tirelessly to stop war and achieve sustainable peace and disarmament to enhance human security for all. We know now what we knew then, that only when we analyse conflict from a gender perspective, integrating disarmament, human rights, the environment, and economic and social justice holistically will we be able to eradicate the root causes of conflict.

Gender shapes the impact of weapons and violence on societies and is therefore relevant in all disarmament discussions, including nuclear disarmament. Nuclear weapons are not just weapons of mass destruction but they are also political tools that are linked to power.

Power structures are gendered where men tend to hold the most political, economic, religious, and cultural power. Therefore we need to think about how nuclear weapon policies and discussions are influenced by militarism and masculinity and how gendered language—such as hard vs. soft security or strong/weak, active/passive, state security/human security, etc. —play a role in disarmament and non-proliferation debates. Gender politics shape policy makers assumptions and aspirations, which effect whose security is taken into consideration and who is participating in the discussions.

WILPF, as the first organisation to uniquely provide a gender perspective on issues of peace and security, has, is, and will be a powerful and necessary voice in global peacemaking. We encourage you to follow our centennial conference and celebration at www.womenstopwar.org and on Twitter at @WILPF, @RCW_ , and @Peace_Women and #WSW2015, #WILPF100