Women's International League for Peace and Freedom

Women's International League for Peace and Freedom

The Women's International League for Peace and Freedom (WILPF) is a non-profit non-governmental organization working "to bring together women of different political views and philosophical and religious backgrounds determined to study and make known the causes of war and work for a permanent peace" and to unite women worldwide who oppose oppression and exploitation. WILPF has national sections in 37 countries.

WILPF is headquartered in Geneva, Switzerland and maintains a United Nations office in New York City.

Organizational history

WILPF developed out of an International Women's Congress against World War I that took place in The Hague, Netherlands, in 1915; the name WILPF was not chosen until 1919.[1][2] The first WILPF president, Jane Addams, had previously founded the Woman's Peace Party in the United States, in January 1915, this group later became the US section of WILPF.[3] Along with Jane Addams, Marian Cripps and Margaret E. Dungan were also founding members. As of 1920 the US section of WILPF was headquartered in New York City.[4] Marian Cripps, Baroness Parmoor, who later served as president of its British branch.[5][6]

Furthermore, Women’s international league for peace and freedom opposed to wars and international conflicts. Since it is an undeniable fact that wars will violate individual’s peace and freedom, the league organised and took formal actions to end the war. The major movements of the league are open letter to UN secretary general to formally end the Korean War, International day for the total elimination of nuclear weapons and statement on weapons, gender-based violence and women human rights defenders. As the league is consisted of women, concentrated professionals are allowed to improve the current issues related to women and people.

Woman's Peace Party (USA)

Main article: Woman's Peace Party

The forerunner to the Women's International League for Peace and Freedom, the Woman's Peace Party (WPP) was formed in January, 1915 in Washington, D.C. at a meeting called by Jane Addams and Carrie Chapman Catt. The approximately 3,000 women attendees approved a platform calling for the extension of suffrage to women and for a conference of neutral countries to offer continuous mediation as a way of ending war.

WPP sent representatives to a subsequent International Women's Congress for Peace and Freedom, held in The Hague from April 28–30, 1915.

International Congress of Women, The Hague, 1915

The Congress was organized by the German feminist Anita Augspurg, Germany's first female jurist, and Lida Gustava Heymann (1868–1943) at the invitation of the Dutch pacifist, feminist and suffragist Aletta Jacobs to protest the war then raging in Europe, and to suggest ways to prevent war in the future. The Congress opened on April 28[7] and was attended by 1,136 participants from both neutral and belligerent nations, adopted much of the platform of WPP and established an International Committee of Women for Permanent Peace (ICWPP) with Jane Addams as president. WPP soon became the US Section of ICWPP.

Second International Women's Congress for Peace and Freedom, Zürich, 1919

Jane Addams met with President Woodrow Wilson and is said to have worked out some common ground on peace. However, at their second international congress, held in Zürich in 1919, ICWPP denounced the final terms of the peace treaty ending World War I as a scheme of revenge of the victors over the vanquished that would sow the seeds of another world war. They decided to make their committee permanent and renamed it the Women's International League for Peace and Freedom.[3] WILPF moved its headquarters to Geneva to be near the proposed site of the League of Nations, although WILPF did not endorse empowering that organization to conduct food blockades or to use military pressure to enforce its resolutions. The League called for international disarmament and an end to economic imperialism.[3] The US branch of WILPF grew in recognition and membership during the post-WWI era, despite some attacks on the organisation as "unpatriotic" during the First Red Scare.[3] The WILPF supported treaties such as the Washington Naval Treaty and the Kellogg-Briand Pact, regarding them as stepping stones to a peaceful world order.[3]

During the 1930s, Vera Brittain was the WILPF's Vice-President.[8]

Prior to the outbreak of World War Two, the League also supported measures to provide relief for Europe's Jewish community.[3]

Although WIPLF membership is restricted to women, several male peace activists have contributed to WIPLF meetings and publications, including Bart de Ligt[9] and J. D. Bernal.[10]

Two WILPF leaders have received the Nobel Peace Prize for their peace efforts and international outlook and work with WILPF: Jane Addams, in 1931 and Emily Greene Balch in 1946.[11]

WILPF and the United Nations

WILPF has had Consultative Status (category B) with the UN Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) since 1948 and has Special Consultative Relations with the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) and the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD), as well as special relations with the International Labour Organization (ILO), Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) and other organizations and agencies. WILPF has advocates and lobbies for the democratization of the UN, the Security Council and all other UN organizations and agencies; monitors Security Council and General Assembly activities in order to promote reforms; opposes the privatisation and corporatisation of the UN, especially the global compact with corporations; and advocates for the abolition of the Security Council veto.

WILPF today


WILPF envisions a world free of violence, poverty, pollution and dominance. WILPF stands for equality of all people in a world free of racism, sexism and homophobia; the building of a constructive peace through world disarmament; and the changing of government priorities to meet human needs.[12]

Broad areas of concern are:


PeaceWomen is a project of the WILPF, based out of their United Nations office in New York City. Its mission is described on its website as follows:

The PeaceWomen Project promotes the role of women in preventing conflict, and the equal and full participation of women in all efforts to create and maintain international peace and security. PeaceWomen facilitates monitoring of the UN system, information sharing and the enabling of meaningful dialogue for positive impact on women’s lives in conflict and post-conflict environments.[13]

PeaceWomen's work focuses on six core areas of action to promote its mission:[13]


WILPF's international records are held at the University of Colorado Boulder. They contain the reports of the congresses.[14]

See also


  1. Bussey, Gertrude; Tims, Margaret (1980). Pioneers for Peace. Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom 1915-1965. Oxford: Alden Press.
  2. Women, peace and transnational activism, a century on History and Policy (2015)
  3. 1 2 3 4 5 6 Faith, Thomas I. (2014). "Women's International League for Peace and Freedom". In Wayne, Tiffany K; Banner, Lois W. Women's Rights in the United States: a comprehensive encyclopedia of issues, events, and people. Santa Barbara, California: ABC-CLIO. pp. 272–3. ISBN 978-1-61069-214-4.
  4. Harriet Hyman Alonso (1993). "Former Suffragists for Peace during the Interwar Years, 1919-1935". Peace As a Women's Issue: A History of the U.S. Movement for World Peace and Women's Rights. Syracuse University Press. pp. 85–124. ISBN 978-0-8156-0269-9.
  5. Oldfield, Sybil. "Ellis, Marian Emily". Oxford Dictionary of National Biography. Oxford University Press. Retrieved 6 January 2013.
  6. "Sir John Lavery Portrait of The Lady Parmooor Oil on canvas, 76 x 64cm (30 x 25) Signed". Retrieved 6 January 2013.
  7. "International Congress of Women opens at The Hague". History.Doc. Retrieved 12 December 2014.
  8. Deane, Patrick (1998). History in our hands: a critical anthology of writings on literature, culture, and politics from the 1930s. London: Leicester University Press. pp. 63–4. ISBN 978-0-7185-0143-3.
  9. de Ligt, Bart (July 1929). "The Intellectual Class and Modern Warfare". Reconciliation. (Speech originally given at WIPLF conference in Frankfurt-am-Main).
  10. Swann, Brenda; Aprahamian, Francis (1999). J.D. Bernal: a life in science and politics. London: Verso. p. 234. ISBN 1-85984-854-0.
  11. Ford, Liz (27 April 2015). "Centenary Stand: Female Activists Head for The Hague to Set a New Peace Agenda". The Guardian. Retrieved 8 December 2015.
  12. 1 2 About Us - PeaceWomen - A Project of the Women's International League for Peace and Freedom Retrieved 22 July 2010.
  13. "WILPF Collection (DG043)". Swarthmore College Peace Collection. Retrieved 22 June 2015.

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