The Bernard and Audre Rapoport Center for Human Rights and Justice

Women's Search For Peace

Some of the most exciting scholarship of the last twenty years has been done by women and about women. It has entailed building on women's experience, history, and insights. It is called women's studies, and women scholars in all fields have struggled to gain academic recognition for it.

Among other subjects, it has instigated a discussion of patriarchy. Personally, I have found the writings of women very helpful in sorting out my experiences in the peace movement. It is the research and creativity of women's studies that have made it possible now to analyze our society. In turn, that offers us an awareness and then hope for its transformation.

Not unlike other fields of women's endeavors through the ages, women's protests and peace activism have suffered from historical amnesia. Before one dismisses the protestors and non-violent resistance of today, let us recall our foremothers who permitted themselves to be arrested and endured hunger strikes to gain access to family planning, birth control technologies, and the right to vote; who brought women from warring countries together at the first International Women's Peace Congress in 1915 and later mobilized against nuclear testing in the 1960s and during the Vietnam war.

The contact I have had with the international women's peace movement has challenged many of my own patterns of thought and assumptions. My personal encounters are not intended as a travelogue. But where else do we question and learn, but from our own experience?

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