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WOMEN AND PEACE PACK UPDATES

pack information

CHOOSING PEACE 1 (Pack pages 13-16)

CONTENT

Part One HALF THE POPULATION

What women have been saying
Being a mum as well as a scientist
A feminist viewpoint
India's silent revolution


Part Two WOMEN IN WAR

Guerrilla Women
A Woman's Influence
Women In The Armed Forces
Annette's letter
Martha Gellhorn : death of a fearless reporter
Women Reporting War


Part Three CHOOSING PEACE

Standing up to be counted
Greenham Common

Healing Wounds
Keeping Going
Women Writing About War

Hawks and Doves: Protesting for East Timor
Bianca Jagger
Aung San Suu Kyi
Mary Robinson

1. Greenham Common (Pack page 13)

In September 1997 the common land at the former US air base at Greenham was returned to the people of Newbury. It cost them £7.5 million to buy it back from the Ministry of Defence.

At the official ceremony, not a word was said about the women who had mounted one of the longest protests in modern history. They were represented, though - and when the representatives spoke up they were shouted down with words like 'Scum!'

A determined few had continued to inhabit a camp by the main gate, as a symbol of the peace work women still have to do. Local people were angry - 'They're anarchists. A thorn in our side for years, ' said one. ' I hope they leave without a trace.'

On New Year's Eve 1999 the last protesters threw a farewell party before dismantling the camp and leaving.

By April 2000, when the perimeter fence was finally pulled down, the air base buildings had become a flourishing business park, the heathland area was already nurturing rare plants and wild life, and the Greenham Trust was setting up arts projects, including open air sculpture.

But Greenham Common will always have a strong significance for the women's peace movement. One women said, 'The real memorial to Greenham is in the hearts and actions of the women who were there'.

Joan, one of the very last to leave, said, 'I carry with me from Greenham a sense of the need to act and not just agree to things being done in my name without letting the government know that I oppose them.'

Rebecca, who lived at the camp for five years, said: 'Greenham didn't transform just the lives of the women who lived there, but the lives of thousands of women all over the world'. Those thousands of women, hearing about Greenham, felt that there really was something women could do to protest against war.

Rebecca also said 'It's a pity that it's seen as such a footnote to modern history'. What do YOU suggest can be done to keep the story and the message of Greenham Common's peace camp alive?




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2. Standing up to be counted

Lindis is a midwife and health visitor in her mid-fifties. She is also a pacifist and peace activist. Her first protest was when she was 7 years old: a teacher smacked her head for doing her sums wrong, and Lindis marched out of school and home. 'I was outraged. She should never have done that.' Throughout her schooldays she stuck up for children who were bullied or treated unfairly. 'I could never stay silent when there was injustice.'

Later, married to a chaplain and with three grown-up children (all of whom support what she does), Lindis focused her attention on the American intelligence station at RAF Menwith Hill. She was concerned about the base's ability to eavesdrop on a million e-mails, faxes and phone calls every hour. She was concerned about its work developing the technology to aim weapons in outer space. She was concerned about the systems structures at the base which could start nuclear war. So she began protesting there.

She staged repeated protests, and was repeatedly arrested. She ignored the ban on her presence at the camp, and has been imprisoned a number of times.

She has also protested against some of the indignities of prison. Among other things, she refused to be strip searched ('It's a huge invasion of privacy; it degrades and dehumanises.').

Lindis is terrified by prison, but that hasn't stopped her work. 'They cannot stifle the human spirit,' she said. She believes that campaigning and speaking out and peacefully trespassing has to go on. 'It always comes back to the need to ask questions of those in authority.'

She has sometimes felt discouraged. But she remembers writing to a friend to say she felt her voice was so tiny at such a dark time in history; and the friend wrote back 'Yes, but there are lots of tiny voices and together we can shout'.

What do you think about Lindis' way of making herself heard? Are there any other peaceful ways to 'shout'? What kind of courage is needed?

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