Honor the True Origins of Mother’s Day

Did you know that the celebration of Mother’s Day in the United States began as a call for a “Mother’s Day for Peace?” After witnessing the bloodshed of the U.S. Civil War, women leaders called for mothers worldwide to unite: 

“Arise, then… women of this day! Arise, all women who have hearts, whether our baptism be that of water or of tears! Say firmly: We will not have great questions decided by irrelevant agencies. Our husbands shall 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, 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 the devastated earth a voice goes up with our own. It says: Disarm, Disarm! The sword of murder is not the balance of justice.”

– Julia Ward Howe, 1870

It has been more than 150 years since those words were written, but the urgency of peace—and of women’s peace leadership—is just as pressing today. Globally, research has shown that when women lead, crises are more likely to be resolved without violence, and peace agreements are more likely to last. Yet women remain grossly underrepresented in governments and in peace processes.

We have seen, through our collaborations worldwide over the past 28 years, that having women in positions of leadership opens up entirely new understandings of conflicts and opportunities for resolution. In order for peace to be sustainable, everyone affected needs to be part of the solution.

If you want inspiration this Mother’s Day for Peace, you might enjoy looking back on our stories about the power of Senegalese priestesses to stop war or women in Madagascar taking on new leadership. You can also learn more about our current women-led collaborations in Nigeria and Myanmar.

We would love know what you think! Comments are open (below) if you have thoughts or a tribute to share about peacebuilding this Mother’s Day. If you would like to make a gift in honor of someone, we would be glad to inform them and/or share your words on this webpage as well.

Community Tributes & Comments

5 Comments

  1. Maureen Flannery made gifts in honor of Adrienne Flannery-Reilly and Maggie Lehnerd-Reilly with the message: “War is not healthy for children and other living things. Praying for a safe and peaceful world for your children and my grandchildren.”

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