They simply were not interested!

Annie Didcott

Having recently retired from paid employment, I decided that now was the time to apply myself to the much more important task of bringing peace to the world. Looking around, it wasn’t immediately obvious which way to turn so I opted to join the Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom, not fully realising that they had already been working hard to promote peace for virtually 100 years.

Undaunted, I decided to get active. Mother’s Day was approaching, not that this appealed to me in itself as I had always maintained that it was a totally commercialised piece of nonsense and that I did appreciate and honour my own mother on most of the days of the year. But being confronted by endless advertising as to how to give Mother some wonderful (expensive) gift – French perfume, a boxed arrangement of gorgeous exotic flowers, a visit to a Massage Parlour, a new dishwasher, a brand new car, la, la, la. I decided that women needed to be reminded of the origin of Mother’s Day.

The printer produced 100 copies of Julia Ward Howe’s Mother’s Day Proclamation and I set out with the intention of offering copies to all the Mothers who would be flocking to enjoy the goings-on in Glebe Park. The plan had been to give them some simple information about the capacity of women to contribute to achieving peace in the world and wake up to the real evils of war.

Funnily enough, no-one seemed very interested and after less than 20 minutes in the Park, I was approached by a stern, female, Security Person in uniform, who marched me over to the Park Entrance and sent me packing: “this is no place to be handing out leaflets, so kindly go on your way!” So with about 95 leaflets in hand I went on my way and the Glebe Park Mothers were none-the-wiser. But I was!

Mother’s Day Proclamation

Arise then…women of this day!
Arise, all women who have hearts!
Whether your baptism be of water or of tears!
Say firmly:
"We will not have questions answered by irrelevant agencies,
Our husbands will not come to us, reeking with carnage,
For caresses and applause.
Our sons shall not be taken from us to unlearn
All that we have been able to teach them of charity, mercy and patience.
We, the women of one country,
Will be too tender of those of another country
To allow our sons to be trained to injure theirs."

From the bosom of a devastated Earth a voice goes up with
Our own. It says: "Disarm! Disarm!
The sword of murder is not the balance of justice."
Blood does not wipe out dishonor,
Nor violence indicate possession.
As men have often forsaken the plough and the anvil
At the summons of war,
Let women now leave all that may be left of home
For a great and earnest day of counsel.
Let them meet first, as women, to bewail and commemorate the dead.
Let them solemnly take counsel with each other as to the means
Whereby the great human family can live in peace…
Each bearing after his own time the sacred impress, not of Caesar,
But of God -
In the name of womanhood and humanity, I earnestly ask
That a general congress of women without limit of nationality,
May be appointed and held at someplace deemed most convenient
And the earliest period consistent with its objects,
To promote the alliance of the different nationalities,
The amicable settlement of international questions,
The great and general interests of peace.

Julia Ward Howe, 1870