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2015’s the 100th Anniversary of the Women at the Hague: Lessons for Today (Fall 2015)

This article was first published by the Alliance for Peacebuilding.

If you are looking for a inspiring read, consider ‘Women at The Hague: The International Congress of Women and Its Results’ authored by three American women: Jane Addams, Emily Green Balch and Alice Hamilton. I have two copies. An original published November 1915 by Macmillan Company. The second is a soft-cover published in 2003 by the University of Illinois Press with an enriching preface by Professor Harriet Hyman Alonso, City College of New York.

My field is mediation. Below are some highlights which drew my attention:

  • Aletta Jacob, of neutral Netherlands, initiated the Congress. She recruited a multi-country team who asked Jane Addams to moderate the four-day event.
  • 43 American women gathered in New York City to take the Dutch ship, Noordam, across the mine-strewn Atlantic to confer with 1,200 women from 12 countries. Classes on politics, warfare, mediation and arbitration were held daily.
  • Many women were shunned by newspapers, politicians and their own families. Upon arriving in England, they were not allowed to land.
  • Sweden, Norway, Netherlands, Denmark, Hungary, Germany, Belgium, Austria, Italy, Great Britain, Canada and the USA attended.
    The Netherlands had 1,000 participants; Italy, one; of the180 British delegates, only three were able to attend – the rest were prevented by a military blockade of the North Sea.

There was nothing naïve in their approach. Prior to Track Two Diplomacy, coined in 1981 by Joseph Montville, they selected citizen envoys to carry the Congress’ message of peace and mediation to rulers of belligerent and neutral nations.

Canadian Julia Grace Wales’ proposal for The International Plan for Continuous Mediation Without Armistice was presented to “the rulers” of all involved nations.

In time, envoys Addams (1931) and Balch (1946) received Nobel Peace Prizes for their tireless work to “give peace a chance.” Addams advised, “Never again must women dare to believe that they are without responsibility because they are without power. Public opinion is power . . . determination, . . . a twin sister of faith or vision, is power.” (Addams, Balch, Hamilton – 1915: 109).

                        author

Albie Davis

Albie M. Davis, served as a volunteer mediator with Urban Community Mediators in Dorchester beginning in 1980.  She is the former Director of Mediation, District Court, Trial Court of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. MORE >

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