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Women, Peace and Transnational Activism: A Century On

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31 March 2015

3:00pmSkeel Lecture Theatre, People's Palace, Queen Mary University of London, Mile End E1 4NS

The women from belligerent countries who gathered at The Hague whilst war waged across Europe developed a vision of gender-based solidarities which transcended national borders and in which peace and women’s rights were intimately intertwined. 

The congress led to the creation of the Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom (WILPF), which soon became one of the most distinctive voices within internationalist politics in the interwar period and a powerful strand within twentieth century trajectories of feminist internationalism.

This event took the 1915 Congress and the founding of the WILPF as a point of departure to explore critical questions about the relationship between gender, activism and international politics, drawing on a range of historical and contemporary perspectives and highlighting the expertise of QMUL staff, as well as forging new links with non-academic stakeholders.

Read the articles in the History & Policy virtual roundtable.

Activism in Historical Perspective
This session focussed on 1915 as a milestone in histories of feminist internationalism and a starting point for a broader discussion about the ways in which women have organised – in the past and the present-day – across national borders.

Chair: Lucy Delap (History & Policy)
Ingrid Sharp (Leeds): The Women’s Peace Congress at The Hague and women’s human rights
Laura Beers (Birmingham): The Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom and the origins of feminist internationalism
Celia Donert, (Liverpool) Feminism, transnational activism and the Cold War
Helen McCarthy (QMUL) The United Nations and Women’s Rights in historical perspective

Activism and Institutional Change
Having considered the dynamics of women’s organising, this session focussed on activism and its institutional impact in the present day.

Chair: Kim Hutchings (QMUL)
Eleanor O’Gorman (Cambridge): What Difference has Security Council Resolution 1325 made?
Christine Chinkin (LSE/Matrix Chambers): International activism and sexual violence against women: The Istanbul Convention
Clare Duncanson (Edinburgh): Gender, peace-building and economic empowerment
Dr Rebecca Johnson (WILPF): Women’s international League for Peace and Freedom today

Are Women’s Rights Human Rights?
At an evening roundtable we asked three leading voices in contemporary global gender politics to reflect on how far women’s rights have become fully recognised as human rights, and what role women’s organising, including feminist action, have played in achieving this change.

Helen McCarthy Deputy Director of the Mile End Institute (chair)
Christine Chinkin Director of the Centre on Women, Peace and Security, LSE
Frances Guy, Christian Aid, former UN Women Representative for Iraq and former British Ambassador to Yemen
Baroness Berridge, Chair of All-Party Group for International Freedom of Religion or Belief

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