“Women in Black” is a strong movement of feminists who are struggling against war, militarism, violence and are acting for peace and justice. The movement began in 1988 in Israel and gathered thousands of active women worldwide in few years! Nowadays, the network is becoming bigger and stronger, including new countries and new feminists in it.
One of the aims of our organization is to empower and highlight the role of women peace builders as important actors of peace making processes. In 2011 the most active young activists of the organization brought Women in Black movement to Armenia – for peace and against violence and any kind of discrimination.
As a part of this big network, 2 members from our organization took part in the First European Meeting of Women in Black which took place in Sevilla, Spain in April 28-30. Even though several international WiB meetings have been organized in the past, this was the first European meeting in which different countries from Europe have taken part. This conference, based on participatory approach, was very unique because it was first time that Women in Black were gathering from different regions and countries in a same place. Acting in different parts of the world, most of WiB groups were seeing each other first time in their life.
We talked about the common problems that WiB are currently facing. The first and the gravest problem was the lack of youth in the movement. Most of the members are above 50 which is, of course, a serious problem for the network. And since Armenian Women in Black are all under 40, WiB from other countries were very encouraged and inspired and warmly welcomed our initiative to include youth in the movement.
The second and not less important problem was the biased understanding of feminism ideology and interpretation of non-violent situation. Sometimes it happens that in the same country WiB groups are divided into 2 controversial groups – anti-militaristic and feminist ones. Certainly, this is a cause of disunion, misunderstanding and lack of cooperation among the members. For instance, a woman is coming to join the group only because she is against war and oppression. This puts the members into confusion because Women in Black are groups of feminists who first of all act as feminists. On the other hand, many feminists join the network thinking that this is a place when they can raise their concerns about sexuality, safe abortion and other issues, forgetting about the unique mission and reason of existence of Women in Black.
The other problem is the lack of communication and coordination in the network. In a single country there can be 3 or 4 WiB groups that are not aware of each other’s activities and therefore, do not support each other and are not united. Worse, in France or in Spain, WiB groups can cooperate with other groups but never with each other.
Summing up the problems and trying to give solutions to them, we started the second day of our conference talking about the following points:
* Crisis Policies strike entire population but particularly penalize women.
* Crisis policies support war and militarization.
* NATO: How it influences the policies of the EU and the individual states.
* The Media: between secrets, silence and lies.
During the third day we were discussing our – as Women in Black – joint actions and we came up with writing an official letter to ACAA, giving tips for our trip to Palestine together with WiB of Israel, as well as organizational issues for having joint vigils in the local countries. Besides, we were discussing the creation of Facebook Page in the social media in order to make people know about this big network, its activities and also to gather youth in the movement. Moreover, WiB of each country will organize a training on antimilitarism and feminism to raise awareness of young women about this very important questions. Finally we were discussing the place and the responsible country of our next – 2nd European Meeting of Women in Black.
We came back from the meeting full of drive and enthusiasm and impressed by the work that Women in Black of different countries do in their communities. We are more than happy that Women in Black of Armenia became part of this big network and are sure that the movement in our country will become stronger and wiser, including new members.
We would like to thank all those people who made real our participation, many thanks to the organizers, translators and every single Woman in Black for giving us so much energy and hope, hope that there will be a time when the world will no longer undergo any war or violence, world where people will respect each other and be full of love and caress.