Listen to the Women


David Adams | Transition to a Culture of Peace – TRANSCEND Media Service

1 Apr 2024 – In his reporting from Israel, Shamil Idriss, CEO of the organization Search for Common Ground, reminds us that solidarity alone with one side or the other in Israel and Palestine will not bring peace. At CPNN, we must engage in some self-criticism since most of our coverage has been simply solidarity with the Palestinians who are the victims of Israeli genocide. As Shamil reminds us, this solidarity is understandable, but it is not enough. We must go beyond solidarity.

Instead, as ‘Search for Common Ground’ shows us by example, peace can only come from dialogue and trust-building between the two sides of the conflict. This is a long and difficult process, but there is no other way.

In this way, Search for Common is working with a powerful and growing community of women leaders, including activists, lawyers, former Knesset members, former Palestinian ministers in Jerusalem, Ramallah and Tel Aviv working to ensure that they are not left out of whatever peace process that will have to come out of this war. Idriss explained: “We are supporting them as they develop their own thinking and strategy for how to accelerate and influence that kind of peace process. It’s well known that peace processes that involve women last much longer and are more viable.” This was the theme of Resolution 1325 adopted by the UN Security Council during the International Year for the Culture of Peace in one of its few moments of progressive action under the leadership of the ambassador from Bangladesh, Anwarul Chowdhury.

This year, around the world on International Women’s Day, millions of women showed how they can be a powerful force for peace.

Listen to what they chanted and wrote on their placards as shown in CPNN this month.

Many called for an end to violence against women and demanded their sexual and reproductive rights.

Others expanded their demands to an end of patriarchy:

From Romania: “Blestem Patriarhatul” (We Curse Patriarchy)

From Germany: My favorite season is the fall of the patriarchy.

From Peterborough Canada: “Where there is a woman, there is magic,” “It’s a beautiful day to smash the patriarchy,” and “The future is female.”

Patriarchy, the domination of men over women, is as old as humanity. As expressed in this blog in 2017, “This goes back to prehistory when women were excluded from war due to the fact the practice of patrilocal exogamous marriage (husband remains in his native village and marries a wife from outside) ensured that wars were conducted between the husband of a woman on one side and her father and brothers on the other side. As a result, since warriors were exclusively men, they were free to capture and rape the women they found when vanquishing another community.

The male domination of the culture of war has characterized all human societies since the beginning of history. The male rulers of the first empires were not only the military commanders but also the heads of the state religion. Female heads of state and religion were so rare that they are considered to be curiosities of history: for example the pharaoh Hatshepsut in ancient Egypt, and the (mythical?) female Catholic Pope in the Middle Ages.

Of course, the elimination of patriarchy requires the engagement of men as well as women, and for that reason it is important that there were many men participating in the celebrations and protests on March 8.

For women’s equality, it is necessary to abolish the culture of war.

Placards this year included the demand for an end to war:

From Chicago in USA: Feminists say no to war

There were specific calls for solidarity with Palestine:

From Seattle in the USA: Palestinian liberation as a “feminist imperative”

From Pakistan: Rise for the women of Palestine

And perhaps, most profound, were the placards saying that it is women who give birth.

From Belgium: Women give life and reap death.

From Puerto Rico: Nosotros Parimos “We give birth.”

The fact that women give birth is a powerful force for peace. Fortunately, when I was a professor of psychology and I prepared my one and only psychological book, Psychology for Peace Activists, I deliberately chose to include as many women as men in the study. What I found by examining their autobiographies and biographies was that the great women peace activists derived their motivation from having given birth. For example, Helen Caldicott says that with the birth of her first child, she realized “that I would die to save the lives of my children. At that moment I accepted personal responsibility for stopping the nuclear arms race.”

As we often say in this blog, we are entering an era of economic and political contradictions that will lead to revolutionary change. Insofar as women take leadership, we have a greater chance that the change will lead to a culture of peace.

As expressed by the French group, Warriors of Peace: “We, the Warriors of Peace, will continue to stand, proud and determined, alongside all oppressed women, alongside all our persecuted sisters, everywhere in the world. It is about our feminism. Of our duty as humanity. Feminism is justice, equality and dignity for all. It is the refusal of assignment and division. Feminism is peace.”


Dr. David Adams is a member of the TRANSCEND Network for Peace Development Environment and coordinator of the Culture of Peace News Network. He retired in 2001 from UNESCO where he was the Director of the Unit for the UN International Year for the Culture of Peace.  Previously, at Yale and Wesleyan Universities, he was a specialist on the brain mechanisms of aggressive behavior, the history of the culture of war, and the psychology of peace activists, and he helped to develop and publicize the Seville Statement on Violence. Send him an email.

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