Annelise Ebbe – Denmark

First of all: Please read the 2006 May 24 Action Pack.

linked with our presentation of War on Iraq, and of the Womens International League for Peace and Freedom.

She is one of the 1000 women proposed fort the Nobel Peace Price 2005.

She says: “For me it is essential to always move forward from the patriarchal culture of war to my feminist culture and vision of peace.”

Annelise Ebbe – Denmark

She works for the Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom (WILPF), also for the Women in Black Denmark, and also for the Danish Peace Council.

For 40 years, Annelise Ebbe has been actively engaged in peace work and women’s rights worldwide and in Denmark. As vice president of the Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom (WILPF), president of Danish WILPF, founder of the Danish Women in Black network, president of the Danish Peace Council, and an eager contributor to discussions on the public agenda, her continuous work and personal engagement as a pacifist and feminist has made her a well-respected and outspoken leading figure in the anti-war movement, the women’s movement as well as on the public agenda.Born in 1949, Annelise Ebbe grew up in the southern part of Denmark in a family with very progressive values. Her mother was a member of Danish Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom (WILPF), the organization that Annelise would head years later. Facing and fearing the potential nuclear threats of the ongoing Cold War, Annelise, at the age of 15, joined the Danish Campaign against Nuclear Weapons and thereby took her first step in a life-long engagement as a pacifist within the peace movement.

Ever since she was a young girl Annelise Ebbe had a great fear of war. At night she had frequent nightmares about wars and destruction of the world. In the daytime she was also haunted. Often she would burst into tears just by the mere feeling of war and destruction. Annelise has no simple answers as to the reason for this fear. But the fact that she grew up in the aftermath of the Second World War and had a family linked to the Danish resistance movement could provide some kind of answer. Stories of imprisonment of family members or even death in German concentration camps did not escape the attention of the young Annelise. Neither did the fear of the following Cold War with the nuclear threat, which entered into Danish homes through radio, newspapers and television.

When Annelise, at age 15, joined the Danish Campaign against Nuclear Weapons, she started investigating the matter in order to provide others with solid information and win their support against war and weapons. Today her major strength is her capacity for solid and thorough investigation and analysis. She has proved to be a very effective and successful organizer and convener of all kinds of events. She is also a brilliant, outspoken and knowledgeable contributor to books, magazines and newspapers, with great writing skills and well-grounded understanding of the nuances and different perspectives of the subject in question.

Peace work was not the only passion in Annelise Ebbe’s life when she joined the Danish Campaign against Nuclear Weapons as a teenager. She was also engaged in student politics and, confronted with existing gender roles and inequality in Danish society at the time, she became increasingly interested in women’s issues.

Annelise Ebbe started studying at the University of Aarhus in September 1968 at the time when student rebellions against existing structures and teaching in universities, which had started in France in May, came to Denmark. This excited and inspired her to question the existing educational system herself. During the 1970s she became active in the Danish women’s liberation movement, working for the establishment of the Danish Women’s Museum. Like many other young women at the time, she read Marx but did it in her women’s group. Being very fond of the Marx Brothers and starting to read Marx, they decided to call the group the Marx Sisters. Their task in the movement was to read and analyze literature on feminism and related issues and disseminate the material to others.

She was also very concerned about inequality and development in Third World countries and became engaged in a grassroots organization supporting development projects in Africa, Asia and Latin America.

Annelise Ebbe began as one of the pioneers in Danish academia to do research on women’s literature and women’s studies and started lecturing on the subject at the University. In 1982 she was offered a three-year research scholarship in women’s studies, which she accepted in spite of great resistance from male academics, who considered women’s studies to be of low interest and low academic value. In 1985, Annelise Ebbe decided to quit the arena of academia acknowledging that she needed more challenges and ‘real life’ work than the university could provide. She began translating books into Danish and kept her engagement in peace work and women’s work.

Her interest in women’s issues paved the way into politics. Annelise Ebbe felt a need to integrate women’s rights and peace work into a broader and more political perspective and therefore joined the party Venstre Socialisterne (Left Wing Socialists), where she also became a member of a women’s group.

She wanted to run for local elections in Aarhus and had the support of the party as well as the potential to win high numbers of female voters, but due to internal disagreements about the Party’s electoral system, she gave up. Running for elections based on the party’s system would mean that even though Annelise Ebbe would attract female votes, these votes would only benefit the two male candidates. In 1982 she left the Party for good along with others, as she disagreed with a controversial resolution concerning democratic principles.

Along with her engagement in women’s liberation, peace work remained crucial to Annelise Ebbe and in the first half of the 1980s she became one of the major forces behind the rather anarchist peace group MÅVISÅFÅFRED, (NOW-THEN-LETS-GET-PEACE). The group created street happenings and actions, which were controversial but always embedded in a great sense of humor. This attracted many Danes who were eager to participate and support when the actions were being performed.

Humor was a crucial part of Annelise Ebbe’s approach to activism as well as non-aggression and it still is. This has sometimes created tension in the Danish anti-war movement, as she does not support aggressive rhetoric as a means of attracting public attention. In 2003 when Denmark decided to participate in the coalition forces invading Iraq, major demonstrations were organized against Danish participation – many co-organized by Annelise Ebbe – and some of them used quite aggressive rhetoric. Loyal to her beliefs, Annelise Ebbe distanced herself publicly in television and newspapers from these statements. By doing so she attracted several unhappy reactions from other activists but at the same time she stood out as a credible representative of the peace cause in the eyes of many Danes, who disliked the rhetoric and stereotypical images of peace activists.

When the Danish No To Nuclear Weapons magazine closed in the beginning of the 1990s, she and others transferred its spirit and heritage to a new alternative magazine concerned with the politics of stability and security.

The year 1993 marked the beginning of Annelise Ebbe’s international engagement when she got in contact with the Helsinki Citizens’ Assembly and participated in its meeting in Ankara, Turkey, which aimed at creating a sustainable civil society from below. During the meeting, Annelise Ebbe and others discussed the lack of a gender perspective in this process and decided to form a women’s network in response. In 1994 Annelise Ebbe took over the task of coordinating the women’s network and became a member of the Executive Committee. The same year, she traveled to Vienna to participate in the United Nations Regional Preparatory Conference for Beijing 1995. Here she came in touch with WILPF international for the first time as well as Women in Black.

Meeting WILPF international was a landmark for Annelise Ebbe. Even though WILPF had existed in Denmark for many years and her own mother had been a member, she had never become engaged in the organization. In the past her mother had told her that maybe WILPF was a little too ‘dusty’ for a young girl. But in Vienna Annelise Ebbe joined a workshop about conflict resolution organized by WILPF and was deeply impressed by the its organizational skills, ideas and perspectives. She decided to join WILPF and shortly thereafter she became a member of the board of the Danish section. She participated in the UN Conference on Women in Beijing in 1995 on behalf of WILPF Denmark. In 1996 she was appointed Vice President of the Danish section and in 1999 she became President. In 2004 Annelise Ebbe became Vice President of international WILPF.

She also became involved in Women in Black, when civil war was raging in the former Yugoslavia. She traveled in the region in 1994 and 1996, organized seminars and workshops, and participated in Women in Black’s summer camps. She suddenly found herself passing through her very own childhood nightmare of war, destruction and lives torn apart. Here it was – and it was real. She met women who had lost husbands, children and homes and who in spite of their traumas were struggling to keep the world and their lives together. While watching the misery and horror around her, Annelise Ebbe found herself questioning the very meaning of peace work. Does it actually make sense? But she realized that what she saw was the very meaning of peace work: Women working together and sharing experiences across borders, ethnic and religious identities.

When NATO started discussing military intervention in 1998, Annelise Ebbe arranged the first Women in Black vigil in Denmark, wrote leaflets and articles and confronted the Danish Government’s response to the conflict, by writing an open letter to the Danish Foreign Minister.

With the invasion of Iraq she was a member of the coordination group of the Danish movement No war Against Iraq. She was also the co-founder and now President of the Danish Peace Council. In 2005 she ran for the Danish parliamentary elections as a candidate for the Red-Green Alliance with nonviolent conflict solution, progressive peace work and women’s rights as some of her major political themes.

links:

Women and Development;

Ireland Literature Exchange;

WPP/ifor Homepage;

and some in danish:

Kvindernes Internationale Liga for Fred og Frihed;

Rød-Grønne Linjer nr. 23.;

bibliografi.dk;

IKKEVOLD ER EN MENNESKERET;

Salt-online.

Leave a Comment

You must be logged in to post a comment.