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Volume Two -> F. Feminist Movements and Protests -> F.6. War and Women's Resistance


The relationship between women and war is of course complex; sometimes, as in liberation wars, they have actively supported armed resistance; but in many wars they become victims and survivors; sometimes they actively try to promote peace and cross ‘enemy’ lines. The emphasis in this section is on resistance to war. Opposing wars has in recent decades quite often been linked to broader feminist commitments and campaigns, although sometimes women are prompted to act simply by the urgency of ending brutal and devastating wars. In both cases wider theoretical issues arise about whether women are particularly disposed to resist war and about links between militarism and patriarchy. The theoretical debates are not central to this Guide, which focuses primarily on examples of resistance, but a few relevant theoretical references are included below.

Cockburn, Cynthia, The Women’s Movement: Boundary Crossing on Terrains of Conflict, In Cohen; Rai, Global Social Movements (A. 6. Nonviolent Action and Social Movements), London, Athlone Press, pp. 46-61

Focuses on action-research project Women Building Bridges in Northern Ireland, Israel/Palestine and Bosnia Hercegovina, and comments on role of transnational women’s networks, including Women in Black.

Cockburn, Cynthia, From Where We Stand: War, Women’s Activism and Feminist Analysis, London and New York, Zed Books, 2007, pp. 288

Examines women’s resistance to war in many parts of the world, including Sierra Leone, Colombia and Gujarat, India. It also covers women’s cooperation across enemy lines in the former Yugoslavia and in Israel/Palestine, and resistance in the west to imperialist war, and develops theoretical questions about gender and militarism. See also:  Cockburn, Cynthia , Women in Black: The Stony Path to “Solidarity” In Clark, People Power: Unarmed Resistance and Global Solidarity (A. 1.b. Strategic Theory, Dynamics, Methods and Movements)London, Pluto Press, 2009, pp. 156-163

Cook, Alice ; Kirk, Gwyn, Greenham Women Everywhere, London, Pluto Press, 1983, pp. 127

Elshtain, Jean Bethke ; Tobias, Sheila, Women, Militarism and War: Essays in History, Politics and Social Theory, [1990], 2nd edn. (with new epilogue), Chicago, University of Chicago Press, 1995, pp. 318

Evans, Jodie ; Benjamin, Medea, Stop the Next War Now: Effective Responses to Violence and Terror, Novat CA, New World Library, 2005, pp. 256

The editors were among the women who launched the campaign Code Pink: Women for Peace in November 2002, which has since undertaken a wide range of nonviolent direct action protests in the United States and forged links with women in many other countries. (For details see: The book is a collection of essays by peace activists and scholars exploring a range of issues but including an emphasis on dissent and movement building.

Giles, Wenona ; de Alwis, Malathi ; Klein, Edith ; Silva, Neluka, Feminists Under Fire: Exchanges Across War Zones, Toronto, Between the Lines, 2003, pp. 238

Examines role of women’s organizations in civil wars in former Yugoslavia and Sri Lanka.

Harford, Barbara ; Hopkins, Sarah, Greenham Common: Women at the Wire, London, The Women's Press, 1984, pp. 171

Jones, Lynne, Keeping the Peace, London, The Women's Press, 1983, pp. 162

Gives transnational examples of women's peace activism.

Korac, Maja, Linking Arms: Women and War in Post-Yugoslav States, Uppsala, Life and Peace Institute, 1998, pp. 91

Krasniewicz, Louise, Nuclear Summer: The Clash of Communities at the Seneca Women’s Peace Encampment, Ithaca NY, Cornell University Press, 1992, pp. 276

Kwon, insook, Gender, Feminism and Masculinity in Anti-Militarism, International Feminist Journal of Politics, Vol. 15, issue 2 (June), 2013, pp. 213-233

Feminist analysis of the conscientious objection movement in South Korea in which women activists challenge dominant militarized conception of masculinity.

Liddington, Jill, The Long Road to Greenham: Feminism and Militarism in Britain since 1820, London and Syracuse NY, Virago and Syracuse Press, 1991, pp. 341

Mama, Amina ; Okazawa-Reis, Margo, Militarism, Conflict and Women’s Activism in the Global Environment: Challenges and Prospects for Women in three West African Countries, Feminist Review, issue 101 (July), 2012, pp. 97-123

Focus on examples from Nigerian, Sierra Leone and Liberian civil wars over several decades.

Natanel, Katherine, Resistance and the Limits: Feminist Actions and Conscientious Objection in Israel, Feminist Review, issue 101 (July), 2012, pp. 78-100

Assesses effectiveness of feminist resistance on movement to refuse the draft, looking primarily at experience of individual feminist COs, rather than organized women’s groups.

Roseneil, Sasha, Disarming Patriarchy: Feminism and Political Action at Greenham, Buckingham, Open University Press, 1995, pp. 225

This PhD thesis is a detailed account of the history and everyday life at Greenham, based on participation in the peace camp and interviews with other women. See also Roseneil, Sasha , Common Women, Uncommon Practices: The Queer Feminism of Greenham London, Cassell, , 2000, pp. 352 , which explores life-style and lesbian issues connected with the camp.

Ruddick, Sara, Maternal Thinking: Towards a Politics of Peace, London, Women's Press, 1989, pp. 297

Influential, but also much criticized, argument linking women’s inclination towards peace with their role as mothers.

Ruiz-Navarro, Catalina, A feminist peace in Colombia?, ReliefWeb, 14/02/2019,

Ruiz-Navarro provides an analysis of the 2016 Colombia Peace agreement that incorporates the inclusion of women within the peace talk process. He also discusses the mobilisation in the country in support of the agreement, the role of Norway and Sweden in supporting this goal, the role played by women and the obstacles to the implementation of the agreement.

Sjoberg, Laura, Viewing Peace through Gender Lenses, Ethics and International Affairs, Vol. 27, issue 2 (Summer), 2013, pp. 175-187

See also:

Lepa Mladjenovic; Vera Litricin, Belgrade Feminists 1992: Separation, Guilt and Identity Crisis, (E.3. Opposing Other Wars and Occupations),  – for further material on women in ex-Yugoslavia opposing the war, and the Belgrade ‘Women in Black’ campaign
Meg Coulson, Looking behind the Violent Break-up of Yugoslavia, (E.3. Opposing Other Wars and Occupations),  – for further material on women in ex-Yugoslavia opposing the war, and the Belgrade ‘Women in Black’ campaign
Barbara Epstein, Political Protest and Cultural Revolution: Nonviolent Direct Action in the 1970s and 1980s, (A. 6. Nonviolent Action and Social Movements), , esp. pp. 160-68, which briefly describe the Women’s Pentagon Action and Seneca Falls Peace Camp in USA