Our history

Our history

Early in May 2002 a group of women friends met for a social gathering. The occasion was used to consider a moving peace message which had been received via the internet from a group of North and South Korean Women who were responding with dismay to President Bush's claims relating to his "axis of evil" which included North Korea, as well as Iraq and Iran. The Korean Women felt that it would seriously undermine the careful efforts to build understanding and advance towards the co-operation and peaceful re-unification of the two Koreas.

We decided to greet and support them, and to form ourselves into the Network of Oxford Women for Justice & Peace. We expanded during the next months and realised we needed just such a women's group to protest during the run up to the attack on Iraq.

Our network grew rapidly and involves women from all walks of life and ethnic groups, professions and voluntary groups, such as local and national peace groups, trade unions, workers' education, anti-war, and justice campaigns. We hold meetings every six weeks on a Saturday afternoon from 4.0-6.0pm at the Friends' Meeting House in St. Giles, Oxford.

NOW has taken part in national and local anti-war demonstrations beneath its distinctive banner. We have sent delegations to debate Iraq and the Middle East conflict with special concerns for Palestine. This has included meetings with MPs Andrew Smith, Evan Harris and Nicola Blackwood.  We are affiliated to Campaign Against the Arms Trade, MAW (Movement for the Abolition of War) and WILPF (Women's International League for Peace and Freedom).

Members have collectively, and individually, written to their MPs, MEPs and other bodies, on many different aspects of world conflict; welcomed national dignitaries, taken part in vigils, sit-ins, die-ins, broadcast on Radio Oxford, leafletted, organised local lectures and meetings.

Back in 2003 every Woman MP received a letter from NOW with our concerns relating to US and UK war on Iraq and particularly the effects on women and children. We have also supported and demonstrated for our member Dr. Mercy Heatley, in her "No Tax for War Campaign", when she was summonsed for withholding 7% income tax (the portion which goes to the Ministry of Defence) Her action had extensive national and local media coverage.

We have been very much involved with Oxford's International Women's Week. These activities we were launched and beginning to discover our strength as women working together.

NOW is also actively in contact with other international and national women’s peace and justice groups.

We have made a significant contributions towards Oxford's International Women's Week.  In March 2003 we held two events: Firstly a one day Forum on War, Women & Children, with speakers and discussion groups on Iraq, Aid for Palestine, Young Refugees, The Arms Trade, Women's International Work for Peace; exhibits and artefacts, on International Women's Day, in St. Columba's, Oxford City. Secondly, an Exhibition at the Museum of Oxford on War, Women & Children, with some remarkable black and white photos from a mix of work by professional photographers from around the world to illustrate the experiences of children in conflicts.