About Us


Women In Black



Women in Black stand in silent vigil each Wednesday from 5:00-6:00 PM at the East entrance of Burton Barr Library, (1221 N. Central) Central and McDowell in downtown Phoenix.

Women in Black is an informal group and all women are invited to join us as they are able. Please wear black when possible. Veils are provided.

For more information please email womeninblack@yahoogroups.com or call 480-894-2024.


Women in Black is an international peace network. Women in Black is not an organization, but a means of mobilization and a formula for action. Women in Black vigils were started in 1988 and are now found in the United States, Israel, England, Italy, Spain, Azerbaijan and in Yugoslavia. For more information, visit the Women in Black web site.


The Women in Black stand in silent vigil to protest war, rape as a tool of war, ethnic cleansing and human rights abuses all over the world. We are silent because mere words cannot express the tragedy that wars and hatred bring. We refuse to add to the cacophony of empty statements that are spoken with the best intentions yet may be erased or go unheard under a passing ambulance or the wound of a bomb exploding nearby.

Our silence is visible. We invite women to stand with us, reflect about themselves and women who have been raped, tortured or killed in concentration camps, women who have disappeared, whose loved ones have disappeared or have been killed, whose homes have been demolished. We wear black as a symbol to mourn for all victims of war, to mourn the destruction of people, nature and the fabric of life.


Press Coverage:

Address to the Security Council of the United Nations
Gila Svirsky, Women in Black and Coalition of Women for Peace
23 October 2002

Student protesters rally for peace, war alternatives

'Women In Black' gather weekly to protest war, abuse

By Barbara Yost
The Arizona Republic
Feb. 06, 2002 12:00:00

Rain or shine, the Women in Black gather every Wednesday afternoon outsidethe Burton Barr Central Library in Phoenix to hold a silent vigil against war and the abuse of women worldwide.

They stand shoulder to shoulder, numbering anywhere from a couple to more than a dozen, cloaked anonymously in black dresses or slacks with veils covering their faces, handing out fliers from 4:30 to 5:30 p.m. They have been there every week since Sept. 19. That amounts to 20 hours of silence.

"What we are standing against is unspeakable," said Beth Swadener of Tempe, breaking her silence only at the stroke of 5:30.

Women in Black is a global network for peace and human rights created by women in Israel in 1988 to protest the conflict in the Mideast. The movement has spread to Italy, Spain, the United States, England, Azerbaijan and Yugoslavia.

The purpose of the vigils is to raise awareness of "who are the victims of war," said participant Carole Edelsky, a professor at Arizona State University. "So often, it's the poor, women and, yes, soldiers."

Reaction to the Phoenix protesters has been mixed but mostly positive, the women said. Sometimes children make fun of them. One library patron pointed a finger at each woman and pretended to shoot her. On a recent blustery day, another sniped, "I hope you all freeze to death." But the protesters prefer to remember the young woman who scrawled "thank you" on a tiny slip of paper for each woman, or the young man who passed by, read a flier and gave them a "thumbs up." One sympathizer sat and voiced her support in a one-sided conversation. And a homeless man handed them 13 cents, everything he had.

"I think it's cool," said Christine Tyler, 15, a freshman at St. Mary's High School, as she left the library last Wednesday. Her friend, 18-year-old Steve Sullivan, is planning to enlist in the Marine Corps, but he too commended the women for their stance. "Everybody has their own opinion," he said. "I'm not offended at all. It's great they come out and protest."

Women in Black vigils began in Phoenix with two or three people and grew as news spread. The same women do not gather every week, but someone is always posted to hand out fliers, about 300 a day. The women have little in common except commitment to their message: solidarity with women around the world. They are educators, homemakers, social workers, lawyers and saleswomen, and they range in age from teens to 80s.

Retired librarian Margery Leach is a longtime activist who marched for civil rights in the 1960s. "We live such harried lives," Leach said. "There's an hour (each week) when we can think, we can pray. It's a precious hour." Women in Black is aligned with the Arizona Alliance for Peace and Justice.

The fliers refer to a Web site, www. azpeace.org, and a phone number, (480) 894-2024. The women plan to continue their vigils, said Kyrsten Sinema of Phoenix, "till there's no more war."Reach the reporter at barbara.yost@arizonarepublic.com or (602) 444-8597.


National Women In Black Website



Women In Black




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