Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom (1915 – Present)
“WILPF strives for a fundamental change in how states conceptualise and address issues of gender, militarism, peace and security. We do this by carving a path for grassroots organizations to use and develop existing international legal and political frameworks.” – WILPF
In 1915, the International Women’s Peace Conference established the Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom (WILPF). The WILPF is a non-governmental organization and was initially known as the International Committee of Women for Permanent Peace (ICWPP) which was inspired by the American Women’s Peace Party. It was officially recognized by its current name in 1919. At its very core, it is a women’s peace organization, dedicated to advocating for peace and protesting war.
During the International Women’s Peace Conference in April 1915 in The Hague, over a thousand women from different countries around the world amassed together. According to the WILPF’s website, the women congregated to “study, make known and eliminate the causes of war.” More specifically, these women gathered to protest the First World War, believing that a non-violent solution would be more viable. The inaugural president was the America feminist Jane Addams, who was a founder of both the WILPF and the Women’s Peace Party. The other two founding members were Marian Cripps and Margaret E. Dungan. The WILPF has survived for over one hundred years and is still a flourishing organization today.
The Encyclopedia Britannica Online (EBO) states that the purpose of the WILPF is to “oppose war and strive for political, economic, social, and psychological freedoms for all” and maintain that “the threat of war” or war itself prohibits those freedoms. This organization was established so that women had a medium to work towards peace and freedom — two concepts that the organization believes women have a right and responsibility to in order to provide peace and security. In 2018, the main priorities of the WILPF is “disarmament, social justice, and women’s rights” according to the EOB. More concisely, the WILPF desires a peaceful world with justice and equality. The WILPF conducts its mission internationally through the creation and execution of specific programs via local and national chapters and by working to influence the United Nations’ policies.
Throughout the twentieth and twenty-first century, the WILPF has been very influential and able to advocate for peace in some form. At the end of the First World War, United States’ President Woodrow Wilson, based most of his Fourteen Points on the WILPF’s beliefs. One of his points led to the creation of the failed League of Nations, the predecessor of the United Nations, which is now tasked with spreading peace across the world. Two of the organizations members, Jane Addams and Emily Greene Balch, were individual recipients of the Nobel Peace Prize, signifying their dedication to peace between nations and across the world. During the Second World War, the WILPF could not stop the Nazi regime and its persecution of non-Aryans; however, the organization worked from New York to assist refugees. The WILPF played a major role in creating a ceasefire and negotiating a settlement in Korea and held a joint American-Soviet women’s conference together in the United States in opposition to the Cold War.
The Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom has been widely successful during its tenure. The world as we know it in 2018 is rather tumultuous. North Korea has possession of nuclear weaponry. Its leader, Kim Jong-un, and the United States president, Donald Trump, clash over Tweets and have developed unprecedented conflict and tension between the two nations. The United States, the United Kingdom, and France recently bombed Syria in response to the Syrian president’s use of chemical weapons. The People’s Republic of China is a rising power that is attempting to establish its dominance in the South China Sea no matter the consequences. The presence of the WILPF is warranted in this time, and in my opinion, forever. The freedoms that the WILPF are working towards are being violated and each day people are dying due to war and conflict. Even if peace is found and established, it will be necessary for the WILPF to help with enforcing the peace and reminding people why peace and freedom are necessary.
Rosie Tran, Political Science and Women’s and Gender Studies, Class of 2020
Literature and Website
- “Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom.” Encyclopedia Britannica Online, at: https://www.britannica.com/topic/Womens-International-League-for-Peace-and-Freedom (Accessed 12 April 2018).
- McCarthy, Helen, Ingrid Sharp, Laura Beers, Glenda Sluga, Celia Donert, and Helen Pankhurst. “Women, Peace and Transnational activism, A Century on.” History & Policy, March 30, 2015, at: http://www.historyandpolicy.org/dialogues/discussions/women-peace-and-transnational-activism-a-century-on.
- Women’s International League for Peace & Freedom. “Anniversary Atlas: 100 Years of Peacemaking.” Women’s International League for Peace & Freedom Website. https://timeline.wilpf.org/ (Accessed 12 April 2018).
- Women’s International League for Peace & Freedom. “Frequently Asked Questions.” Women’s International League for Peace & Freedom Website. https://wilpf.org/faq/ (Accessed 12 April 2018).
- Women’s International League for Peace & Freedom. “History.” Women’s International League for Peace & Freedom Website. https://wilpf.org/wilpf/history/ (Accessed 12 April 2018)
- Women’s International League for Peace & Freedom. “What We Do.” Women’s International League for Peace & Freedom Website. https://wilpf.org/what-we-do/ (Accessed 12 April 2018).
- Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom.” Wikipedia, at: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Women%27s_International_League_for_Peace_and_Freedom (Accessed 12 April 2018).
Current WILFP activist.