War Resisters International Women's Working Group

Who Are We?

The Women's Working Group (WWG) is an international network of women from more than 20 countries working within the pacifist and antimilitarist organisation, War Resisters' International. We address the connected issues of violence against women and the violence of war. We publish a bi-annual publication called WRI Women, and meet annually during the WRI Council meetings.

Over the past 25 years, WWG has organised four women's conferences. Other WWG projects have been decentralised efforts, such as "Crossing The Line" a campaign that encouraged women in conflict areas to reach out to women in the opposing community; and the international campaign to protest against violence against women.

Goals and Purpose of the Women's Working Group

  • Drawing additional light on the role of women in peace processes.
  • Bringing women's perspectives into WRI, drawing on different cultures and traditions.
  • Bringing antimilitarist perspectives into women's groups.
  • Networking among and providing emotional support to women who are isolated in their antimilitarist work.

The Origins of the Women's Working Group

Women active in WRI formally created the Women's Working Group at the WRI Triennial Conference in India 1985/1986. The first steps in the group's creation, however, began 10 years earlier when a group of women met at the 1975 WRI Triennial Conference in the Netherlands.

Women came together as a response to being a minority in a male-dominated organisation, as WRI was at the time. They drew inspiration from the growing international women's liberation movement, and raised questions about the role of women in the peace movement. They developed an understanding of the links between nonviolence and feminism. They began to examine militarism from the specific perspective of women's experience. This was also a time when the military was about to open up recruitment to women.

Women in WRI explored these issues at their first Women's conference in France in 1976. This was the start of a women's network within WRI and of links between WRI and other women's groups and organisations. Initially made up of mostly European and North American women, the group grew through informal networks, newsletters, women's meetings at WRI Triennial Conferences, and women-only conferences in Scotland, Ireland and Thailand. Perspectives changed as participants learned more, for example, about how Western militarism had consequences for women in other parts of the world.

Some women active in the Women's Working Group are from conflict zones in the Middle East, the Balkans, apartheid-era South Africa, South America during many dictatorships, Indonesia and East Timor. The links they bring have been particularly important in broadening the understanding of the gender perspective in connection with violence and war, and in conflict resolution and peacebuilding efforts.

WRI Women's Conferences

1976 in France: "Women in the Nonviolent Movement"
1980 in Scotland: "Women and Militarism"
1987 in Ireland: "Feminism and Nonviolence"
1992 in Thailand: "Women Overcoming Violence"

The WRI Women's Working Group History Project

We are currently producing a written history of the WRI Women's Working Group's history. This will document our 25 years of efforts to show how feminism and nonviolence are connected and our efforts to gain a stronger voice in the broader women's movement and within WRI. The document will cover our work to broaden political understanding and analysis of war and violence, to increase awareness of the links between sexism and war, and highlight the ways in which war and militarism particularly affect women.

War Resisters' International

WRI is a network of pacifist activists on every continent who work on national, regional and international levels, as well as in local communities, to end war and the causes of war. Originally founded in 1921, WRI is based on the pledge made by each member:

War is a crime against humanity.
I am therefore determined
not to support any kind of war,
and to strive for the removal
of all the causes of war.

WRI serves as a communication and information link, building support campaigns for individual objectors and antiwar groups that come under attack for standing up for their beliefs, and promoting active nonviolent strategies for transforming militaristic societies. WRI has member Sections and Associate organisations in over 40 countries.

What do WRI Members Believe?

  • That war does not solve conflicts, but only perpetuates cycles of violence and hatred.
  • That the cycle of war and violence can be broken when people refuse to participate in the institutions of war and militarism.
  • That we have to build alternatives to the systems and relationships of domination which lie at the root of war.
  • That nonviolence and nonviolent direct action can be powerful forces for transforming society.

For More Information

If you would like information about us and/or would like to give financial support to

  • WRI Women's Working Group
  • War Resisters' International
  • WRI Women's Working Group History Project

contact us at

WWG, c/o War Resisters' International
5 Caledonian Road, London N1 9DX, Britain.
tel +44 20 7278 4040; fax +44 20 7278 0444;
email info@wri-irg.org ; website http://wri-irg.org
Giro: 58 520 4004 WRI

Words from Participants in the Women's Working Group

"The WRI women's group has inspired and challenged me in the work for social change. Perhaps more importantly, it's given me a home, a safe place where neither my feminism nor my commitment to nonviolence is compromised."
Shelley Anderson, Programme Officer, IFOR Women Peacemakers Programme, The Netherlands

"Why WWG is important for me: I get inspiration through sharing of experiences and learning together with women coming from different contexts but working on the same goal."
Saswati Roy, Programme Worker, Swadhina, India

"Meeting women from all parts of the world, especially women in daily conflicts, learning about their situation, their survival, their struggle for rights to exist as women and as human beings in a just society, seems never to stop impressing me deeply."
Ellen Elster, Peace Worker, WRI, Norway

Recent events

The WRI Women's Working Group and the IFoR Women Peacemakers Program jointly organised "Asking the Right Questions: Nonviolence Training and Gender", a women trainers' consultation in Thailand, 3-8 October 2004. The conference report is available here in English (some French) as html and pdf. The conference brochure is available in English, French, and Spanish.

Publications

Visit the WRI Women index page

Also on this website

All articles tagged with 'gender and militarism' can be accessed via http://wri-irg.org/taxonomy/term/273/.

All articles tagged with 'Queer perspectives' can be accessed via http://wri-irg.org/taxonomy/term/437.