Women in Black

Tuesday, November 30th, 2010 | 18:10

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 Intifada 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 migrant workers, and nuclear armament. 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.

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).

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