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Campaign Profile: Women in Black

Name: Women in Black

Aims and objectives: Women in Black (WiB) is a worldwide network of women committed to peace with justice, which actively opposes, and makes the links between, male violence, militarism and war.

What is WiB: WiB has a feminist understanding that male violence against women in domestic life and in war are related. WiB aims to bring a feminist perspective to the opposition to war and other forms of violence, focussing on the effects of war on women, and to campaign - often through vigils and other forms of action - for alternative notions of security, based on justice and the right to live free from violence. WiB is not an organisation, but a means of mobilisation. WiB actions are generally women-only, and often take the form of women wearing black, standing in a public place in silent, non-violent vigils, carrying placards, and handing out leaflets. There are around 20 vigils in the UK, including in London, Bristol, Bradford, Cardiff and Edinburgh, and hundreds of groups worldwide, including in Azerbaijan, Colombia, Israel/Palestine, Serbia and the USA.

Established: WiB was inspired by Black Sash in South Africa, and the Madres de la Plaza de Mayo, in Argentina. The first WiB vigils in January 1988 were held in Israel, where a group of Israeli and Palestinian women jointly protested against the occupation. Women from Italy visited Israel and Palestine in 1988 to support WiB, and returned to found Donne in Nero. When war started in former Yugoslavia, Donne in Nero visited feminist activists in Belgrade, who then founded Zene u Crnom, who since 1991 have held weekly vigils in Belgrade. WiB in the UK was inspired by WiB in Palestine/Israel, by Zene u crnom and also by WILPF and Greenham Common Women.

Successes so far: Being a world-wide network of women opposing war, militarism and violence; maintaining weekly vigils; support for women in conflict zones - making their voices heard; support for women suffering violence; setting a different security agenda; thinking about change, not success.

Next steps: WiB vigils in London take place every Wednesday at the Edith Cavell stature in St Martin's Place from 6pm to 7pm; all women are welcome. To find out where you nearest Women in Black group is, or to find out how to start your own group, go to www.womeninblack.org.uk