The Day Thread of Peace (November 11)

“Never Again” was the message commonly held by the survivors of the Great War that had finally come to an end on November 11th, 1918.

The red poppy was adopted as a symbol of remembrance in 1921, and poppies were sold by the Royal British Legion to raise funds for veterans of the war with employment and housing. In the century since wearing one has become a show of support for the service and sacrifice of British armed forces, and the unavoidable political implications that entails.

Of course, it didn’t take long for “Never Again” to be forgotten. As tensions began to rise across Europe, the Co-operative Women’s Guild adopted the white poppy as a symbol of remembrance for all the victims of war; it has been claimed that 90% of all victims of modern wars are civilians.

They continue to be worn today by those who wish to express their opposition militarism, and a commitment to peace; not without controversy, of course, in a world that reveres war and death whilst claiming the opposite.

The Co-operative Women’s Guild was formed in 1883 and became part of the flourishing worldwide movement of women’s groups who campaigned for peace and equality. The First International Congress of Women’s Rights was held in Paris in 1878. In the United States, the Woman’s Peace Party was founded in January 1915.

American delegates to the Hague, 1915

The American delegates to the International Congress of Women which was held at the Hague, the Netherlands in 1915.

The struggle for the universal right to vote was long and protracted in almost every Western country; in France, male suffrage was given in 1848, but women were not allowed to vote until 1944. Women’s suffrage movements in America campaigned for decades until the ratification of the 19th Amendment in 1920. In Britain, the progress towards universal suffrage was slow and staggered. As they made up an ever-increasing part of the workforce during the 19th Century, their representation did not.

The Suffragists and the Suffragettes campaigned and gave up their lives until universal female suffrage was finally granted in 1928. Margaret Bondfield, a member of the Guild, was the first woman to join the government in 1929.

The Co-operative Women’s Guild ceased to exist in 2016 after 133 years of campaigning for the rights of working women.

Have a fine day and take care of yourselves, everyone.