A quiet revolution took place at the Avery Hill campus of Greenwich University from 7 to 12 September, as the UK section of the Women's International League for Peace and Freedom (WILPF) hosted their International Meetings and seminars. There were more than one hundred women from 25 countries, covering all five continents.
One vital part of the gathering was the Gertrud Baer Seminar: “Peace, Power and Participation”, organised by the new dynamic, international network of younger women - the “Y-Wilpfers”; another was the International Seminar, “Women's Unfinished Agenda.”
At the latter, the keynote speaker was another WILPF International Vice-President, Annelise Ebbe, from Denmark, who stressed the need to change the patriarchal nature of society, eliminate gender-based violence, and move from the militaristic culture of war to a culture of peace.
Middle East focus
Members from Lebanon, Palestine and Israel overcame all obstacles to get to London. They appeared together on the platform telling their harrowing stories, and jointly drafted a resolution on the Middle East appealing to WILPF members and to governments to “do something” to bring peace to the region.
Members heard about the situation in Lebanon, where over a thousand people were killed and more will die from unexploded cluster bombs. They heard about the intolerable situation in Gaza and the increasingly harsh discriminatory legislation and conditions being imposed on the Arab citizens of Israel.
Avery Hill campus buzzed with the sound of women working together for peace, economic justice and human rights: decisions were taken, resolutions passed, future plans made.
In 2000, WILPF - with other NGOs - pressed the UN Security Council to pass Resolution 1325: Women, Peace and Security. Today WILPF women continue to work for the participation of women in decision-making regarding conflict prevention and resolution.