When I first received an email from my university lecturer about a project showcasing the work of the Greenham women, I honestly had to Google what the Greenham peace camp was.
I soon discovered that I wasn’t even born when it started, and was only a mere 7 years old when it ended.
It’s easy to think that because I lived in a different generation, I wouldn’t hold much in common with Greenham, however when I met the women, a lot of the time I saw my own politics reflected. During this project, I’ve spoken to Greenham women who at the time were and still are so similar to me: activists, believers of political and social change, students, and most importantly, they were women who didn’t let patriarchy stop them from achieving their goals.
When I asked some of them why they did what they did, many say: “I did it for my children”, explaining how they held up children’s clothes as symbols of whose lives were most at stake. It only occurred to me recently that the clothes they held up would have fitted me at the time.
At the age of 26, I have been an active feminist for around 2 years now, first discovering my passion for the women’s movement when I started university. Up until last year, I was only aware of the suffragette movement as far as all-female protest was concerned. I was surprised that Greenham had been swept under the social carpet for a lot of my generation, especially as Greenham can be seen echoed in the radical feminism and peaceful protest I see today.
Today’s use of non-violent direct action is inherited from the women of Greenham when they were stood in their thousands using their dead weight to pin themselves to the ground in an attempt to exhibit their strength against law enforcement. We all saw this behaviour mirrored recently when Extinction Rebellion camped out in London to raise awareness of climate change and refused to move; we owe some of this way of thinking to Greenham.
The women of Greenham showcased not only what can be achieved through peaceful protest, but they also highlighted the strength that women collectively can harness. Whether you lived at the camp for 10 years, 5 years, 2 years, if you were only there on the weekends, if you were there when you had time off work, if you were there for the major protests, or even if you were only there to deliver food and contribute good conversation and tea, from me as a 7 year old child:
Thank you for giving up your time to make the world a better place for me.
WRITTEN BY EMILY STRANGE.