War, peace, fines and summits: Six images from the movement to achieve equality for women

By Culture24 Reporter | 20 January 2016

A new exhibition considers the effects of war on women and their responses during several wars in the first half of the 20th century, as well as their attempts to promote peace and prevent future wars

A photo of lots of young women crowded together in a camp during the boer war
© LSE Library
The British government appointed a commission of six prominent women, including Millicent Garrett Fawcett, to investigate the conditions of the Boer War camps that the British had set up in an attempt to weaken support for the Boer resistance.

The camps lacked space, food, sanitation and medicine which led to disease and high mortality rates. The photograph was taken during the commission in 1901.

A black and white photo of a little girl sleeping under rugs next to a wall
© LSE Library
Just a few months after the end of the First World War, Eglantyne Jebb was arrested in Trafalgar Square for handing out leaflets of two starving Austrian children with the caption “Our blockade has caused this...”

She was protesting against Britain’s post-war blockade of eastern Europe causing children to starve to death. She never thought that her humanitarian plea was a breach of the Defence of the Realm Act.

Eglanytne was subsequently fined £5. The prosecuting counsel was so impressed by her argument that it publicly gave her the £5. This was the first donation to the charity that became known as Save the Children.

A black and white photo of a theatre full of women taking part in a conference
© LSE Library
The idea that preventing war should be the equal responsibility of women and of men was voiced at the First Women’s International Peace Conference in The Hague in 1915. Agreement was reached on 20 resolutions including one for women’s participation in framing the peace settlement after war.

A peace movement known as the Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom grew out of this congress.

A black and white photo of a group of women posing for a photo at a conference
© LSE Library
By a remarkable coincidence, the next Women’s International Congress met in Zurich on May 12 1919, the day the Treaty of Versailles was published in Paris.

The congress sent envoys to the ongoing Peace Conference in Paris to present its resolutions, which included a women’s charter. This photo shows the British delegates.

A picture of an engraving of a woman wearing a dress and wings
© LSE Library
The idea that sustainable peace can only be achieved if there is equality between men and women was renewed in 1975 at the first World Conference on Women held in Mexico, organised by the United Nations.

There were three follow-up conferences. These conferences form the background to the historic UN Security Council resolution 1325 in 2000, which formally recognised commitments to women’s human rights, women’s participation in all peace and security processes and women’s protection during conflict.

A photo of an archive letter with an illustration of a town next to black ink writing
© LSE Library
This illustrated album presented to Amelia Scott and her sister, Louisa, by Belgian refugees who they helped in Tunbridge Wells between 1914 and 1916.

  • Women, Peace and Equality is at the London School of Economics and Political Science Library until April 9 2016. Open 9am-7pm (11am-6pm Saturday and Sunday). Admission free. Follow the library on Twitter @LSELibrary.

What do you think? Leave a comment below.

Three museums to discover women's history in

Chippenham Museum and Heritage Centre, Wiltshire
Explore Chippenham‘s First World War history, discover the nurses' stories and learn about the local people who gave their time to the local hospital in the current exhibition, Unity and Loyalty. Until April 30 2016.

The British Postal Museum and Archive, London
The Postal Museum has recently been working collaboratively with The Amies - a group of ten women - and The Poppy Project, an organisation that provides support, advocacy and accommodation for women who have been trafficked. The Amies have unravelled many of the stories about the wide variety of uniforms held in the collection and sewn their own versions of key uniform items, enabling the current small exhibition, Unstitching the Uniform. Until June 30 2016.

Plas Newydd, Denbighshire
At the turn of the 18th century Llangollen was well-known for being the home of the Ladies of Llangollen: Lady Eleanor Butler and Miss Sarah Ponsonby. Visit the house with its carved oak panelling, stained glass and an exhibition about the Ladies and their possessions, and the stunning gardens.
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