Women in Black – worldwide

Linked to our presentation of Stanislavka Zajovic – Serbia and (now independent) Montenegro, and of March across the Nullarbor, and of WLUML – A Different Kind Of Power Is Possible.

First see about regional activities on some WOMEN IN BLACK-links: women in black Homepage UK and internationally; women in black Net; women in black for justice with country links; women in black Baltimore; women in black Northwest; Coalition of (Israelo-Palestinian) women for Peace/women in black and their Homepage; women in black Arizona; women in black Belgrade; women in black Bay Aera … etc. Just put ‘women in black’ into Google and find more.

Women in Black movement nominated for Nobel Peace Prize, June 2, 2001 – We have the pleasure to announce that eight Danish and Norwegian parliamentarians (four women and four men) have nominated the movement “Women in Black” represented by the Israeli and the Serbian group to the Nobel Peace Prize 2001.

Women in Black is a world wide movement of women, committed to non-violence and non-aggression, both as a goal and as a means. Estimates say there are about 10,000 members world wide. Though there is no agreement upon constitution between the various segments world wide, all members believe that male violence against women in domestic life and war are connected. The first group was formed by Israeli women in Jerusalem in 1988, following the outbreak of the first Intifada (Palestinian uprising). Shocked by what they considered serious violations of human rights by Israeli soldiers in the Occupied Territories and considering the situation of military occupation of one people by another as the root cause, the women decided to hold a vigil every Friday in central Jerusalem, wearing black clothing in mourning for all victims of whatever side and holding signs with the slogan “Down with the Occupation”. The idea of regular weekly vigils seems to have been inspired by the example of the “Mothers of the Plaza de Mayo”, in Argentina. (Some of the Jerusalem founders had originally immigrated to Israel from Latin America). The initiative soon spread to various other locations in Israel, with women standing weekly in main squares of cities or at junctions on inter-city highways, sometimes needing to face sexual taunts and insults by right-wingers and occasional physical violence. As was decided early on, the movement did not adopt any formal program other than opposition to the occupation. Local groups were completely autonomous in deciding such issues as whether or not to open participation to men as well as women, and there were many shades of political difference from one place to another. At the peak of the Intifada there were no less than thirty vigils in different locations throughout the country. The number dwindled sharply after the Oslo Agreement in 1993, when it seemed that peace with the Palestinians was at hand, and picked up again when violent events proved that hope to have been premature. The first vigils in other countries were started in solidarity with the Israeli group, and took up the Israeli-Palestinian issue directly – often involving Jewish women who felt critical of the policies of the Government of Israel. Soon, however, such groups took up a variety of local social and political issues, and the idea spread fast. Especially notable were the Women in Black groups in the various fragments of the former Yugoslavia, which in the 1990’s confronted the tide of rampant nationalism, hatred and bloodshed, often meeting with violence from nationalists and persecution by police. In Serbia, Milosevic devoted several speeches to attacking them, calling them “witches” among other negative words. The world-wide Women in Black is still going strong more than twenty years after their inception, and while each group is free to pursue its own goals and activities they keep in regular contact via email and the Internet and hold annual international conferences. The movement has been growing in the United States since the 2003 invasion of Iraq which is an important issue for many members of the movement. Some chapters of the movement also encourage men to participate, though the movement still consists mostly of women. (Read more on wikipedia).

See the history page of the black women on wikipedia.

Read the
Address to the Security Council of the United Nations
, on 10/2002.. – Women in Black is an International Movement of Women for Peace. What unites us all is our commitment to justice and a world free of violence. The international movement of Women in Black began in January 1988, one month after the first Palestinian Intifada (uprising) broke out, as a small group of Israeli women carried out a simple form of protest: Once a week at the same hour and in the same location – a major traffic intersection – they donned black clothing and raised a black sign in the shape of a hand with white lettering that read “Stop the Occupation”. Within months, by word of mouth, women throughout Israel had heard of this protest, and launched dozens of vigils. This began the 17-year history of the Women in Black movement, as it spread spontaneously from country to country, wherever women sought to speak out against violence and injustice in their own part of the world. In Italy, Women in Black protest a range of issues, from the Israeli occupation to the violence of organized crime. In Germany, Women in Black protest neo-Nazism, racism against guest workers, and nuclear arms. In India, Women in Black hold vigils that call for an end to the ill treatment of women by religious fundamentalists. And during the war in the Balkans, Women in Black in Belgrade set a profound example of interethnic cooperation that was an inspiration to their countrywomen and men. Women in Black are often the target of attack by those who promote narrow nationalist views over reconciliation and peace. In both Israel and Serbia, where Women in Black have spoken out against the policies of their own political leadership, women in these vigils are frequently threatened and sometimes violently assaulted, accused of being traitors to their own country. Yet Women in Black have refused to step down from their courageous stand, preferring to serve as a continuous, public reminder that the oppression of others is an unacceptable option. Although Women in Black took root in every continent of the world, cooperation among the disparate vigils was minimal until 2001, when e-mail lists originating in Europe, Asia, and North America began to network the groups. This was followed by two massive, joint actions – in June and December 2001 – demanding peace between Israel and Palestine. On both these days, tens of thousands of women in 150 cities across all five continents participated in solidarity actions. The December event in Jerusalem saw over 5,000 Israeli and Palestinian Women in Black and men marching together from the Israeli to the Palestinian sides of town under the twin banners, “The Occupation is Killing Us All” and “We Refuse to be Enemies”. Other Women in Black campaigns seek to focus world attention on the war in Colombia, and the need to bring peace to that region. The movement of Women in Black has empowered women and men in many countries to mobilize for peace. It is an international movement, so that the voice of conscience in one region now echoes and reverberates throughout the world. And it provides a worldwide support system for victims of oppression, exposing their injustice to the light of day and the pressure of world opinion. The movement of Women in Black assumes many forms in many countries, but one thing is common to all: an uncompromising commitment to justice and a world free of violence. The international movement of Women in Black was honored with the Millennium Peace Prize for Women, awarded by the United Nations Development Fund for Women (UNIFEM) in 2001. The international movement, represented by the Israeli and the Serbian groups, was also a candidate for the Nobel Peace Prize in 2001. Israeli Women in Black won the Aachen Peace Prize (1991); the peace award of the city of San Giovanni d’Asso in Italy (1994); and the Jewish Peace Fellowship’s “Peacemaker Award” (2001). (Read on Coalition for Women).


by Frederick, MD;

on Yougoslavia.

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