Since WILPF’s inception, the world has experienced 224 wars. During that same timeframe, women won two important struggles for human rights. The first, of course, was the right to vote in 1920; the second, the right to reproductive freedom in 1972. Jacobs, and the group that formed out of the Hague conference insisted then, and we insist now, on a third human right —the right to be at the peace table; to be part of the decisions to make war or keep the peace. Fewer than one in 40 of the signatories of major peace agreements since 1992 have been female, according to the UN development fund for women. This needs to change.
Today, there are 50 ongoing violent conflicts resulting in 50 million refugees around the world, and untold death and destruction. The international trade of lemons and toothbrushes is regulated, but not guns and other weapons. Would the adoption of more feminist foreign policy and an increase in women’s participation in peace negotiations put an end to arms and conflict? Probably not. But the point is not to end conflict, but to resolve it without recourse to military violence. The world is missing a powerful opportunity for creating sustainable peace when it turns to military solutions and restricts the participants at peace negotiations to the men with guns.