International Women’s Day 2021: Countdown to Centenary of the Welsh Women’s Peace Petition to America

IWD2021 events will be taking place worldwide

International Women’s Day on 8 March has been marked annually as a United Nations Day since 1975 – designated ‘international women’s year‘ – building on a tradition started in March 1911, when the first “International Women’s Day” was started by women in Austria, Switzerland, Germany and Denmark. In the 100 years since, IWD has been a focal point for celebrating women’s leadership, championing equality and advancing the human rights of women worldwide.

The theme for #IWD2021 in the UK is ‘Choose to Challenge’ – to create a more inclusive world through calling out inequalities. Globally, the COVID-19 Pandemic has projected women to the front line of crisis; and the United Nations is supporting women in leadership to achieve a more equal future beyond covid-19. Given that most people in the UK will be passing IWD2021 still in COVID lockdown, you can take a ‘visual stand by raising a hand’ through social media – by sending your image for the IWD Gallery , tagged #ChooseToChallenge #IWD2021.

In Wales, IWD2021 is being marked with a range of online public events, including an IWD2021 panel by Senedd Cymru; Women’s Archive Wales sponsoring BME Reparative Histories lecture; Women’s Equality Network (WEN) Wales’ schools and youth activites; and live webcast of the UN IWD2021 Commemoration event by UN Women.

Washington, March 1923: Mrs Annie-Jane Hughes Griffiths (chair of the Welsh League of Nations Union) holding the Welsh Women’s Peace Memorial outside the White House, following their meeting with US President Calvin Coolidge; alongside Gladys Thomas, Mary Ellis and Elined Prys. TI Ellis Collections, NLW

WCIA are proud to play an active role in sharing hidden histories of inspiring Welsh women internationalists, leading peace building efforts past, present and future. Perhaps the most incredible story to have emerged over recent years is that of the 1923-24 Welsh Women’s Peace Petition to America – signed by 390,296 women Wales-wide, and presented (alongside American women’s movements) to the President of the United States, calling for the US to lead the League of Nations.

The petition memorial, recently ‘rediscovered’ in the Temple of Peace, has inspired a movement of women’s groups, peace activists, historians and researchers to uncover more about the story. For #IWD2020 , WCIA set up a new homepage to bring together resources on the Women’s Peace Petition, with some short films:

Despite the COVID lockdown, over 2021-22 WCIA volunteers have continued to explore further. Newly digitised albums of Temple Archives materials are now enabling researchers to find local county organisers, press clippings, meeting minutes and other materials. And Heritage Placement Ffion Edwards wrote this blog about her transcription of Annie’s Diary, an account of the Welsh Peace Delegation’s Tour of North America, which proves a fascinating account.

As the centenary of the petition campaign approaches in 2023, WCIA are delighted to be supporting Academi Heddwch in coordinating a Peace Appeal Centenary project across partners including Heddwch Nain Mamgu, Women’s Archive Wales, the National Library for Wales and many others. For readers who would like to get more involved or be put in touch with partner organisations, please email walesforpeace@wcia.org.uk.