Suffragists who tried to stop the carnage

A remarkable congress held in 1915 that still inspires the women’s movement

The World Today Published 9 December 2013 Updated 10 March 2021 2 minute READ

Helen Kay

Scottish branch of WILPF

In the midst of the carnage of the First World War, 1,200 women from 12 countries met in The Hague in April 1915 to present an alternative analysis of the causes of war. They argued that the use of force to resolve international disputes should be replaced by mediation and arbitration: ‘We feel that we can no longer endure in this 20th century of civilization that governments should tolerate brute force as the only solution of international disputes’.

What led women of different nations, for the first time in history, to meet and express their opposition to war? When war was declared in Europe on August 4, 1914 not everyone was prepared. In London that morning, a group of women from several countries had gathered to discuss issues including votes for women.

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