Women in Black Leuven - Vrouwen in 't Zwart Leuven - België

Femmes en Noir - Frauen im Schwarz - Women in Black - Mujeres de Negro - Donne in Nero - Zene u Crnom


who are we

core group



in her own words





for our herstory that goes back to the '80c go to deeper herstory


Women in Black Leuven was born in 1994, and commenced with weekly silent vigils in solidarity with the women of Bosnia, Serbia and Croatia. These vigils continued until the Dayton agreements in 1995. In 1999 during the second war in the Balkan and till the agreements of June 6 and the end of the war, we came back in the streets of Leuven with our weekly silent vigils.

Leuven hosted the Flemish Women's' Day in 2002. WiB Leuven was an active member of the organizing team. The topic was "women and violence" and "violence against women". The themes of "domestic violence" and "women and  war and peace" were central to the program. WiB Leuven's three international guests for the occasion spoke of the women's movement and women's co-operation across enemy lines in their respective war zones. Palestinian Jihan Anastas and Israeli Edna Zaretsky gave a live replay of the sisterhood which has prevailed over decades between them in behalf of both of their peoples, despite the ever-deteriorating situation in the Middle East: Speaking at a celebration conducted at the monument of the "Unknown War-woman", Anastas and Zaretsky embraced each other and declared "Whatever our leaders say or do, we refuse to be enemies. The weapons must stop, they have never solved any problem and have only brought more misery"

Sonja Prodanovic from WiB Belgrade echoed the same sentiments when she spoke of the unresolved conflict which persists in the Balkans:  "We urgently have to learn how to live with differences, we have to learn to accept and to respect differences and  to continue to be on speaking terms with each other".

The world is indebted to women like the three international guests at the Women's Day in Leuven. It now overdue for world leaders to illustrate a commitment to UN Resolution 1325, unanimously adopted by the Security Council in the year 2000 and specifically advocating the "involvement of women in all of the implementation mechanisms of conflict resolution".  To this day, Palestinian and Israeli women work closely together to create a just peace in the Middle East. Like their brave sisters in the world's constantly expanding conflict regions, Israeli and Palestinian women have more than paid their dues, and have earned their seats at any table where a peaceful future is contemplated for their countries.

Asked how Belgian women might provide assistance, Jihan Anastas from Palestine replied: "You ask what you can do?  Well don't leave it all to the politicians. Let your voice be heard. It matters not where you come from, nor how small your action may seem. When the army of Sharon invaded Bethlehem in 2002, we were confined to our homes for more than 40 days. Through our prison windows we saw the military tanks on our streets. But our sense of world solidarity
kept our spirits alive. I don't know if I would stand here today without these solidarity actions worldwide".

In response to the commonly held perception "what does it matter what we do?" the three WiB guests from war zones each explained that it did very much matter: "Your actions bring direct pressure on our governments. Of equal importance, your actions provide us with connections, and a sense that we are not standing alone in our struggles. Those connections and solidarity give us the strength to resist all forms of discrimination - all insane, many barbaric - including ethnic cleansing, militarism and the killing field mentality, and also gender-based violence, sexism and homophobia. 

But the power of being connected does not stop there. It also inspires us and renews our energy in our quest for peace."

In this context, those present on November 11 in Leuven were reminded of their role by the unforgettable words of Jihan Anastas: "In Bethlehem we say: as long as one person still is searching nothing is totally lost. And we are searching for peace with many".

go to "deeper herstory"


webdesign & photos: Lieve Snellings

last updated: 13th of June 2005
© 2005 Vrouwen in 't Zwart Leuven