May 24, 2002:

May 24 International Women's Day for

Peace and Disarmament



We have been receiving news of some of the activities planned for May 24 2002.

Activities such as:

In Sri Lanka, a half-day discussion for Sinhala, Tamil and Muslim village women on peace and nonviolent conflict resolution will be organized, and a day-long workshop for Buddhist nuns on "Buddhism and Peace".

In the Netherlands, the group Vrouwen voor Vrede (Women for Peace) are conducting a signature campaign calling on the Dutch government to ratify the Protocol to the UN Treaty on the Rights of the Child, preventing military recruitment of young people under the age of 18. The collected signatures will be presented to the government on May 24.

In the Democratic Republic of Congo, a seminar on peace and nonviolent conflict resolution will be organized by the Alliance of Christian Women for Peace and Justice.

In Australia, members of the Australian Peace Committee made photocopies of the May 24 pack and distributed them at International Women's Day events so that women could learn about what others around the world are doing for peace.

If you are planning events for May 24 2002, or hear of other individuals, organizations, or networks planning activities, please send news of what is planned to:

International Directory of Women´s Peace Groups

What is May 24?

"As a woman, I have no country. As a woman, the entire world is my country," the writer Virginia Woolfe once said. She was writing around the time of the Second World War. Her critique of war in her book Three Guineas, and of the social roles of men and women that uphold war, remains pertinent today. Her statement rejected a narrow nationalism that would disenfranchise many people, especially women. She embraced a common humanity.

It is a good definition of solidarity. Solidarity does not mean ignoring important differences. Rather, solidarity searches for a common ground, recognizes shared values. Networking is solidarity's sister. In networking, women reach out to give and receive support, to share information, strategies and resources. Networking means making connections, finding allies, discovering new resources that make our work for peace more effective.

This year's pack gives examples of the many women's peace networks that are flourishing. The international directory has been updated and more suggestions are given as to ways women's peace groups can support each other. A new section on important websites for women peace activists has been added. It is our hope that this will increase networking among women's peace groups. Solidarity and networking are what May 24 is all about.

May 24 International Women's Day for Peace and Disarmament began in Europe in the early 1 980s, when hundreds of thousands of women organized against nuclear weapons and the arms race. Since the 1995 UN World Conference on Women in Beijing, the International Fellowship of Reconciliation and the International Peace Bureau have published this pack to raise awareness of and increase support for women's peace initiatives. Events such as marches, street theatre, debates, and seminars take place around the world on this date.

Suggestions for Action

* Issue a statement, press release or letter to the media, and to the editor of your favorite newspaper or magazine, to mark May 24,
International Women's Day for Peace and Disarmament.

* Issue a press release rating your legislators on their efforts for women, peace and justice.

* Hold a fundraiser to jointly benefit a local peace organization and an organization in another country.

* Support the United Nations 'Decade for a Culture of Peace and Non_Violence for the Children of the World' (2001_2010).

* Make a special effort to reach girls: talk with Girl Scouts/Guides or other girls' groups about how war and peace affect girls. Share an action with them like writing a letter to a government official or to women and girls in one of the groups listed in this pack.
Sponsor an essay contest for girls to express their ideas about creating peace.

* Translate and reprint articles from this pack (please credit the pack and don't forget to send us a copy!) to educate others about the issues.

* Encourage groups to include ending violence in their agendas and events, and to increase their support for women in that part of the world working for peace.

* Inform your networks (your women's organization, place of worship, school, labor union or work place) about May 24 and possible solidarity actions for women peace activists.

* Hold a gathering to write legislators on topics like ratifying the nuclear test ban treaty; or the transfer of military funds to meet
human needs; or whatever is necessary for your community.

* Encourage your school and community libraries to display on May 24 books by and about women peacemakers, violence against women, or about women as decision makers.

* Organize a public panel, demonstration, or film showing on May 24, to highlight women's work for peace. Invite women decision makers, and women leaders from different ethnic and religious groups in your community to speak about women's role in stopping violence.

* Organize a discussion group on ways to support women working for peace in conflict situations.

* Invite women from all sides of a conflict in your community to come together on May 24 in order to explore ways to reduce tensions within the community or neighborhood.

* Write letters of support to the groups profiled in this year's pack on May 24, to express your solidarity for their work. Twin your group or network with a women's peace group in another country.

* Create awareness in your community by holding marches and demonstrations for peace which call for public commitment to end violence. Carry posters, banners, etc. which contain clear messages and demands for the local government.

* Invite members of your community to write and submit poems which reflect how violence against women during conflict has affected their lives. Ask your local newspaper to publish some of these poems and/or ask a local bookstore to hold a poetry reading which features these poems and their authors. Hold a silent candle light vigil at the end of the readings in memory of all women and girls who have lost their lives to war.

* Sponsor an essay contest which focuses on the positive steps that governments have taken to ensure women's decision-making in security issues. Include recommendations for how your city, state or national government can further promote a culture of peace.

* Hold a festival with other groups or women business owners in your town to celebrate women and a culture of peace. Include music, dance and theater performances as well as information booths to create awareness of women's role in creating peace.

* Ask stores, libraries, city government buildings, local radio stations, etc., to declare themselves "violence free spaces" on May 24. Activities for this space might include, giving women an opportunity to talk about solutions to tensions within the community, or about international security, which they might not normally have the opportunity to do.

* Invite local women's organizations together to speak on how women can contribute towards a culture of peace.

* Ride public transportation on May 24 and distribute information to women about local peace groups. Include telephone numbers for peace organizations and organizations that work to empower women and girls.

* Plan a photo exhibit or music festival with local artists that highlights the work of grassroots women peace activists.

* Work with the local or state media to acquire programming space where women peace activists can be highlighted.

* Contact community organizations and ask them to feature a grassroots woman peacemaker in their newsletters.

Shelley Anderson, Program Officer Women Peacemakers Program (WPP) International Fellowship of Reconciliation (IFOR)
Spoorstraat 38
NL-1815 BK Alkmaar
the Netherlands
Tel. +31 72 512 3014
Fax +31 72 515 1102

Frauennetzwerk für Frieden e.V.
Maarweg 47, 53123 Bonn, Germany
Tel. +49 - 228 - 62 67 30
Fax +49 - 228 - 62 67 80

Statement of the Movement of Women Against War

Ruta Pacifica de las Mujeres (RPM) and the Organizacion Femenina Popular (OFP) center this proposal of resistance in the belief that it will be translated into and mobilize nonviolent civil disobedience actions. It shows we are not alone. And that we are not afraid.

We understand nonviolent resistance as a social and political practice grounded in our women's being. Our proposal is a life afirming attitude. It is a way of realizing life, of acting for life. Acts of civil disobedience against all kinds of violence are a strong afirmation of the right not to be a part of any group involved in violence. This includes the right not to participate in the state's military forces, which bear a big responsibility in exacerbating conflicts and in stimulating and legitimizing paramilitary groups. This violence causes the greatest amount of civilian murders and displacement.

With nonviolent resistance we try to neutralize the effects of war on women and the general civilian population. Nonviolent resistance is a collective act of subversive politics, which increases people's capacity to exorcize paralyzing fear. This resistance is one of the peace movement's fundamental tools.

We promote and support a civil society that promotes learning how to live together in a democratic society, that chooses words as the best way to deal with conflict, and that allows creative political, social and cultural forces to analyze and resolve problems.

RPM and OFP propose that the multilateral cease fire be the beginning of an initiative that makes possible the development of an agenda for negotiations. This initiative must be based on respect for human rights and international humanitarian laws, and must also include specific issues pertaining to the war in Colombia. These issues include the rape of women, the recruitment of women and men under the legal age for military service, and the use of "pipetas" to fumigate and bomb the population and irrigation systems. The fumigations, authorized by the Colombian government, violate the human rights of Colombians.

We women stand independently, and say that no armed faction can speak in the name of the people or represent our interests. We are a part of a civil society that is independent of any armed factions and we build our own global agenda for the country's reconstruction.

The Agenda

Women must be included as essential to the solutions that Colombia needs. But we cannot wait paralyzed for results from the negotiations or for the outcome of the national and regional dialogues.

It is urgent that we subvert the culture of violence, starting with the use of language. Among women and men, in the family, at work, and in all social and political spaces, and thinking of the generations to come, we must educate girls and boys in nonviolence. We must change the mentality of our children.

Taking hold of the threads of life, of culture and politics, we will sew, stitch by stitch, the cloth of nonviolence with which men and women of the future will be adorned.

To be able to achieve this we will have to keep our slogan high: we do not want to give birth to boys and girls to send them to war. This way the war will not have enough nutrients. We women declare ourselves in nonviolent civil resistance and refuse to give our children away to compulsive military service. We encourage women to do symbolic acts when recruits are officially accepted into the military: give them flowers, not guns. Women must have enough arguments to persuade their children not to get involved with the armed factions or in war itself.

We also propose that men and women share 50-50 the upbringing and care of the children, and that they participate equally in social and political activities. This means fundamental changes in the way we think of work, of citizenship, of public life, and of the organization of production.

Thanks to Laura Ainchil for translation from the Spanish


International Directory of Women´s Peace Groups