Women's Ways of Peace
Samples from History


This section offers samples of ways women have expressed their opposition to war. It shows that women have been active participants rather than passive victims in challenging the use of military action to solve conflicts. It also brings attention to the unique skills women possess as peacemakers. It is not that women are inherently more peaceful than men. Women have always served in armies and have supported wars. It is true, however, that women often have had a different perspective about war and have experienced oppression differently during war than have men. For example, 80% of the causalities in contemporary wars are primarily women and children, and women are often the ones left to try and bind the wounds that war has inflicted on their family and community.

Because of their traditional position as caretakers, healers, and mothers, women more than once have become the moral authority for promoting peace in their societies. They have developed good listening and communication skills, and have expressed a willingness to consider the needs and pains of people rather than the gains of political power. Yet, in spite of these invaluable skills, women’s effectiveness as peace makers has not achieved the pride of place it deserves. Women rarely are included in peace negotiations, even though they are increasingly involved in reconciliation efforts, often in women to women encounters. Women’s efforts to show their opposition to military conflict have a long creative history, as the following samples from different times and places show.

“ I didn’t Raise My Boy to be a Soldier” - USA, pre-World War I
Greenham Common songs - England, 1980s
Singers of Sudan - Current

Kathe Kollewitz - Germany, 1920s
Arpilleras tapestry - Chile, 1970s/80s
Paper Peace Cranes - Japan, World War II

Womens Demonstrations

Lysistrata - Greece, 5th Century BC and Current
Greenham Common - England, 1980s
Cosimo - Sicily, 1980s
Women in Black - Worldwide, Current
White Scarf - Historic Balkans and Current
Code Pink - USA, Current

Web Resources

“War & Dialogue,” 20-30 year old women in world-wide conversations about war - International Museum of Women

Essays on womens many roles for peace reconciliation - European Platform for Conflict Preventions and Transformation

Connecting Women for Peace - ways women’s groups around the world are connected, via the internet, to exchange information and mutual support - PeacexPeace

Discussion Questions After Exploring the Samples
  • What About the Men? Would any of these approaches work if done by a man, or group of men? If not, why?

  • Would these sentiments and activities be more powerful if men were involved?

  • Which, if any, of these approaches might work today? Why or why not?

  • Identify words, or concepts, or illustrations which played to notions of women’s unique cultural and social roles.

  • Can you see places where women overcame their victim status, dealt with feelings of powerlessness? Name some.

  • What responsibilities do women assume/have during wartime? Does women’s assumption of these responsibilities entitle them to certain rights during wartime? Have a right to participate in the political decision-making process that leads to war and peace? Why or why not?

Lyn Reese is the author of all the information on this website
Click for Author Information

| Home Page | Lessons | Thematic Units | Biographies | Essays |
Reviews: | Curriculum | Books | Historical Mysteries |
| About Us |
Women in World History Curriculum