WHO WE ARE
We are the Minnesota branch of Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom [WILPF], an international organization based in Geneva, Switzerland, with an office across from the United Nations Palais Des Nations. The US national office is currently in Des Moines, Iowa.
In 1915, soon after the outbreak of World War I, more than 1336 women and some men met at The Hague in the Netherlands, to call for an end to the carnage of the war raging in Europe and to develop a plan to end wars all together. They established the Committee for Permanent Peace, elected Jame Addams as President, and intended to meet again after the war.
After hostilities ceased in 1919, many came together in Zurich, Switzerland, and adopted the name Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom. They established headquarters in Geneva, Switzerland, near the League of Nations.
Among its members are Nobel prize laureates: Jane Addams, Emily Greene Balch, Linus Pauling, Alva Myrdal, and Martin Luther King. In 2017, WILPF member Beatrice Finn accepted the prize on behalf of the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons of which WILPF is a founding member.
National Sections exist on every continent and in about 50 countries. Branches are free to work on national and International campaigns and issues as they are able. International Congresses and National Congresses are held every three years.
WILPF is diverse and open to women and men of different class, racial and ethnic background, sexual orientation, religion and philosophical beliefs all united in opposition to war and committed to establish the just social, political, conflict resolution strategies, and economic conditions needed for a sustainable and permanent peace.
WILPF AIMS AND PRINCIPLES
1. WILPF brings together women of different political beliefs and philosophies who are united in their determination to study, make known and help abolish the causes and legitimization of war.
We take an integrated approach toward world peace; towards this goal we work:
- to achieve total and universal disarmament;
- to abolish violence and coercion in the settlement of conflict and their substitution in every case of negotiation and conciliation;
- to reform the United Nations decision-making process and to strengthen the spirit of its Charter;
- to continually develop and implement international law;
- to achieve women’s human rights;
- to achieve gender equality and justice for all through political, social and economic empowerment;
- to support solidarity and cooperation among people to achieve peace;
- to identify and address the intersectional nature of women’s struggle; and
- to identify, encourage, develop, and support environmentally sustainable societies.
2. We believe these aims can be attained, and a real lasting peace and true freedom can exist only under just systems of social-economic and cultural inclusion. Accordingly, we make it our duty to further by non-violent means the social transformation that enables the inauguration of systems under which social, cultural and political equality and economic justice for all can be attained, without discrimination based on age, ethnicity, gender, religion, sexuality, physical and mental disabilities, political opinion or on any other grounds recognised under International Human Rights Law.
3. WILPF sees as its ultimate goal the establishment of an international just economic and social order founded on the principles of meeting the rights and needs of all people and not profit and privilege for the few.
WILPF MINNESOTA METRO
WILPF MN Metro Branch is one about 40 WILPF branches throughout the United States.
The WILPF Minnesota is extraordinary in that it was launched soon after the 1915 Conference at the Hague and has existed for almost 100 years with members and branches throughout the state.
[Katherine Clare Meerse (St. Paul) Dissertation – Progressives for Peace and Social Justice: The Minnesota Branch of Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom, 1921-1941, UMN, 1999.]
In 1921, a Minnesota Women’s Disarmament Committee was established with the purpose to have a Minnesota delegation at the Washington Disarmament Conference in the winter of 1922. In May 1922 a temporary WILPF chapter was started by pacifist members of the Minnesota Disarmament Committee. They brought three speakers to Minneapolis including Gertrude Baer, a young German WILPF member active at the international level.
On October 24, 1922, nine women met at the Women’s City Club in St.Paul to officially organize the Minnesota Branch of WILPF. The goal: “uniting women in one great force to end war.”
They were quickly joined by approximately 200 other political activist women most of whom were part of the suffragist movement and represented women’s clubs and various progressive movements. Maud C. Stockwell was elected as president.
May 1 – 7, 1924 – Maud Stockwell, WILPF Minnesota president. attended the Fourth International WILPF Congress in Washington, DC, presided by Jane Addams.
1925 and 1927 – WILPF MN worked to pass a bill that would make a compulsory course in military tactics at the University of Minnesota an option. The bill was defeated in the House of Representatives both years.
1931 – WILPF arranged for the Transcontinental Disarmament Caravan to come to Minnesota in July. The Minnesota chapter collected 30,000 signatures from Minnesotans for the opening of the World Disarmament Conference in Geneva.
1934 – Maud Stockwell stepped down after 12 years as Minnesota WILPF president. Ruth Gage Colby became president.
1936 – Jean M. Wilcox elected president.
December 1, 1936 – WILPF publishes first Peace Panorama, an alternative paper to promote peace and educate Minnesotans.
1938 – The Branch brought the triennial WILPF National Congress to Minnesota.
1940 – WILPF co-sponsored a volunteer work camp in the Rondo Neighborhood.
1942 – The FBI investigated WILPF, believing the organization to be influenced by communists and because of their vocal anti-war activities before the start of WWII.
1985 – Ribbon Project
1985 – The Third UN Conference on Women was held in Nairobi, Kenya. Several Minnesota women, including Elizabeth Shippee (St. Paul) attended.
1993 – 1995 –The Branch held study sessions and seminars to prepare for the 4th World Conference on Women in Beijing, China. Carolyn Keefe was hired as WILPF organizer.
August 6 – August 24, 1995 – [Ten] Minnesota women traveled with 240 others via the WILPF Peace Train from Helsinki to Beijing.
September 1995 – Minnesota had more than 120 participants, the largest state delegation, to the NGO (Non-Government Organization) Forum and 20 delegates to the government meetings at the Beijing 4th UN World Conference on Women.
Post 1995 – Follow up seminars and events held to report on and implement the Beijing Platform for Action.
2010 – Women and Water Rights Exhibition at the Katherine E. Nash Gallery, University of Minnesota. Discussion, study groups and programs were organized by WILPF two years before the exhibition.
September 6 – December 10, 2016 – Women and Money Project to culminate in an Exhibition at the Katherine E. Nash Gallery at the University of Minnesota. The group exhibition investigated the relationship between women and money through a contemporary lens.
2017 – WILPF MN Metro Arts Committee Retrospective, St. Catherine’s University, St. Paul.