Tag Archives: Cynthia Cockburn

Making Sense of WILPF’s New Campaign: Women’s Power to Stop War

As part of our celebration of our 99th year, WILPF is rolling ourt a new global campaign under the bold banner headline Women’s Power to Stop War.
If you, like me, are inclined to feel a little ambivalent about the ‘stretch ‘ of the vision behind this slogan, Cynthia Cockburn’s article, “Women’s power to stop war: Hubris or hope?”, is definitely worth a read.
She asks the following question:

Bold… but also bald. The slogan stops people in their tracks, we find. They pause and puzzle over it. Are WILPF making a statement of fact here, or is this mere aspiration? The story of the Hague Congress hardly inspires confidence in women’s power to stop war. Besides, the very fact that we have a centenary to ‘celebrate’, that we have had wars to contest throughout the twentieth century and into the twenty-first, suggests not power but impotence.

And she concludes:

If we really mean women have the power to stop war, in what does that ability reside? why has it been ineffective till now? how may we believe in it? It is this holistic, multi-facetted struggle for a nonviolent revolution in the relations of gender, class, ethnicity and nation to which we shall soon commit ourselves anew in our forthcoming centenary Manifesto. If we assert, with breath-taking optimism, Women’s Power to Stop War, it’s not to suggest that women ‘have power’ – on most counts we have little. Rather, it’s to remind ourselves that we have agency. Of course, not all women lack privilege and security. Nonetheless, women as a sex have seen millennia of injustice, many of us have learned how to organize, and above all we have reach, into every corner of life, into the heart of families, into civil society and, increasingly, into the structures of governance. ‘Our weapons’, reads our campaign website, ‘are dialogue, knowledge and insistence.’ Women as women are the ones who have the potential to translate the principle and practice of ‘care’ from the individual to collective, so that a caring society becomes the principle of politics, embraced by men and women alike. And war becomes unthinkable.

To follow the argument I strongly encourage you to read the full article