These Dangerous Women: Filming the 1915 Women’s Peace Congress

WILPF

Charlotte Bill
Producer and Project Manager, Clapham Film Unit

“My sister needs a film”, my contact said to me in a Community Resource basement on Brixton Hill.

“What’s the story?”

“These women in 1915 got together to try to stop World War 1. They travelled right across war torn Europe. They even had to travel by fishing boat at one point – the ferries weren’t running. They were from warring and neutral nations. The organisation they set up is still running today and my sister is part of it. “

I knew at once it was a great story that had to be told on its centenary. I went to Petts Wood Quaker Meeting House to meet my contact’s sister, Sheila Triggs. She was at a meeting of the Orpington branch of the Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom (WILPF), the organisation set up in 1915 and still going today. I showed the group my previous work and offered to help raise the funding to engage members of the organisation and outside volunteers to make a documentary, touring exhibition, booklet and set of oral history recordings.

The Heritage Lottery Fund was immediately interested in the project and I got together with the WILPF History Group to write a successful bid. Helen Kay and Katrina Gass from WILPF History Group had already spent years researching the early members of their organisation and they put together a list of women who had been granted passports to attend the International Women’s Congress at the Hague in 1915.

The 1915 Women’s Peace Congress and the Origins of the WILPF

In 1915 women all over Europe were trying to get the vote. They had formed an international women’s suffrage alliance (IWSA) and felt they had a lot in common with other women regardless of national boundaries. When the war broke out, the international meeting planned for 1915 in Berlin couldn’t take place.  Continue reading “These Dangerous Women: Filming the 1915 Women’s Peace Congress”