Women For Peace


March/April 1991
Re-Issue 2003, 2007

Women For Peace was an on-campus organization at the University of Oregon (Eugene) that I co-founded with a group of women in 1991 in response to the invasion of Iraq. We published newsletters every two-months. March/April 2007 marks 16 years after the first U.S. invasion of Iraq under George H.W. Bush. March 2007 is also the 4th anniversary of the second U.S. invasion of Iraq under George W. Bush.

I will be re-publishing the articles from the March/April 1991 issue over the next two months and including articles of relevance from now that provide greater insight to these writings.

Women For Peace, 1991
We are a non-profit organization for women concerned with changing the state of our world. We first formed as a group this December in response to U.S. involvment in the Middle East -- questioning what the real agendas were. Now that the war has been termed "over," we feel more than ever that changes must take place within our government.

At this point our Planet is on the verge of overall cultural and environmental destruction and is only going to get worse without mass action. We feel that we must educate ourselves and others in the fight against racism, sexism, classism, and homophobia in order to change hateful attitudes which only lead to pain and destruction: Our newsletter is a compilation of information from different sources that we feel is useful and educational. Please pass this information on to others and Let's change this world into a peaceful, respectful, and balanced home.

Our meetings are Sundays at 4:00 PM in the Erb Memorial Union (EMU) on the University of Oregon campus. Look on the daily schedule at the EMU for the exact room that wer are meeting in. We are an all-women organization. We have formed as a support group for women, whose voices have been ignored for too long; however, this is not a separtist statement. Although our meetings are only open to women, everyone is welcome to our public events. Megan Wilson, Women For Peace

The Human Face of "Collateral Damage"

During the past 20 years, Iraqi women have entered almost every profession, including the army. In 1980, 37 percent of oil project designers working for the Ministry of Oil and 30 percent of construction supervisors were women. By 1982, women constituted 46 percent of teachers, 29 percent of doctors, 46 percent of dencists,70 percent of pharmacists, 15 percent of accountants, 14 percent of factory workers, and 4 percent of senior management positions.

Is this the product of a feminist movement? Only in part. Modern Iraq is a large, oil-rich country with a relatively small population (17 11illion). Per capita income is approximately $2,298. To solve a shortage of manpower, Iraq chose to train women rather than import huge numbers of foreign workers, as did Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, and Kuwait.

Ironically, the regime's attitude toward dissent helped. Iraq's secular government, modeled on alleged socialist principles, implemented measures at which regimes more influenced by religious opposition would have talked, including stressing education as "a matter of the elmentary rights for women." Moral: secular totalitarianism, however hideous, is preferable to religious totalitarianism.)

The General Federation of Iraqi Women was founded in 1969 by Nawal Hilmi, Manal Younis, and Ranzia Al-Khairou. It began as one office in Baghdad. Now it incorporates five regional subdivisions divided into 21 branches, with smaller sub-units in each province. More than 3OO,OOO Iraqi women now belong to the federation.

One of the challenges the federation faces is how to prepare women for the return of thousands of Iraqi prisoners of war (from Iran), how to help the wives of men who have suffered psychological and emotional trauma, and how to reintegrate the men into normal life.

The wives of "martyrs" also receive attention. In addition to an acre or more of land, cash stipends, scholarships for the children, and a car, the federation offers driving lessons as well as adult education classes. The purpose is to train widows in marketable skills that help them become self-sufficient. The federation also works at changing traditional Iraqi attitudes about women: the covers of children's books no longer reinforce sex-role stereotypes, and housekeeping and cooking classes are now taught to both boys and girls. Another priority is health education. Federation members spend several months in rural villages in teams of two, identifying women with leadership skills and training them to teach basic hygiene, nutrition, and health care. In an attempt to help women balance careers and families, the federation has also established nurseries and day-care centers with minimal costs throughout the country.

-Andrea Lorenz
MARCH/APRJL 1991 MS Magazine