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Women strike for peace

November 1, 1961

On November 1, 1961, Women Strike For Peace (WSP) was inaugurated with a day-long strike by an estimated 50,000 women in 60 cities, all pressing for nuclear disarmament. The organization was composed primarily of mothers who feared the effects of nuclear proliferation on the short- and long-term health of their children. They were particularly concerned with levels of irradiation in milk and the increase in nuclear testing. WSP had the slogan “End the Arms Race – Not the Human Race,” as well as “Pure Milk, Not Poison.”

Bella Abzug joined the group in its early organizational stages as an active participant in the New York contingent and as creator and chairperson of WSP’s legislative committee. By pushing the organization to incorporate legislative lobbying into its efforts, she helped it to become an effective political force. By 1964, the emphasis of Women Strike for Peace had shifted to focus as much on the Vietnam War as on disarmament, protesting against the draft and the war’s effects on Vietnamese children. Abzug remained active in WSP until she was elected to Congress in 1970.

See also: Women Strike for Peace, and more, Jewesses with Attitude; Women of Valor - Bella Abzug.

Sources: Amy Swerdlow, Women Strike for Peace: Traditional Motherhood and Radical Politics in the 1960s (Chicago, 1993); http://www.san.beck.org/GPJ28-WomenforPeace.html.

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Jewish Women's Archive. "This Week in History - Women strike for peace." (Viewed on April 18, 2014) <http://jwa.org/thisweek/nov/01/1961/wsfp>.