Tuesday, May 1, 2012
May 1, 1915, on the final day of the 1915 International Congress of Women in The Hague, Netherlands, 1,300 female delegates passed a resolution on peaceful efforts to end World War I and the issue of women’s suffrage. The women from 12 countries—including Italy, Poland, Britain, Austria-Hungary, Germany, Belgium, and the United States—convened in The Hague to discuss the asserting women’s influence to end what was the most devastating war to date. Notably, delegates attending the congress included women from nations that were engaged in a bitter war with each other. Among the 20 resolutions passed was one to establish the Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom (WILPF). The congress would go on to influence the World War I pacifist movement.
WILPF still exists today as an active international body with sections in 37 countries on every continent in the world. The organization’s international secretariat is based in Geneva with a New York United Nations office. Until today, one of the WILPF’s primary aims and principles is, “To bring together women of different political beliefs and philosophies who are united in their determination to study, make known, and help abolish the causes and the legitimization of war.” One key initiative of the organization is the PeaceWomen Project, which monitors and works toward quick and full implementation of United Nations Security Council Resolution 1325 on women, peace, and security passed in 2000. It marked the Security Council’s first legal document calling on parties in a conflict to respect women’s rights and incorporate women in efforts to maintain and promote peace and security.