Women of the Day – Greenham Women’s Peace Camp

Green Party Women Celebrating Women’s History Month
Day 22: Women of the Day - Greenham Women’s Peace Camp

This is a special Woman of the Day contribution by Green Party Women’s very own Loppy Oubridge, current committee member and Greenham Women’s Peace Camp veteran.

“On the night of Sunday March 21, 1982 the women at Greenham Common sat down in front of every gate of the US Base at RAF Greenham Common for a 24 hour blockade, to stop the workers entering on Monday March 22 to build silos for American Cruise Missiles. Some women, including myself chained themselves to the gates.”

“Over the preceding week groups of us had fetched and put up various marquees and tents and struggled to dig pits for Michael Eavis’s loaned longdrop toilets (the pits kept filling with water).”

Poster with text: Greenham Common Sunday 21 March The Women's Peace Camp invites everyone to celebrate the unity of alllife

Ann Pettitt, writer of ‘Walking to Greenham’ says “It was the first ever demo at which someone thought of using the entire perimeter of the base”.  The idea was born by Caroline Taylor, a wonderful & creative woman, who also had the idea of having a festival outside each gate over the preceding Sunday 21st of March.  There was music, dancing, plays, films & food: and the wire fences were decorated. Women ran Non Violent Direction Action workshops to train others for the coming demonstration.”

“Each of the seven gates had been given the name of a colour of the rainbow.”

“Yellow Gate was the main gate where the women lived. Green Gate was the entrance where the nuclear silo construction workers normally entered.  The Green Gate had a lot of people at the festival, which was mixed sex, but only women blockaded the Gates. Therefore, the Police preferred to remove and arrest women at less busy gates on the other side of the base, including the Buddhist nuns. “

“It drizzled all that Sunday and Monday and everyone got very damp. Women were brought hot drinks and food, and bunches of flowers.  Some people even rolled them cigarettes and changed their wet socks! Altogether 250 women blockaded the base during which 34 arrests occurred.”

“This was all organised before personal computers and mobile phones existed, using leaflets, posters, meetings, telephone trees and word of mouth.”

“The seed of Greenham Women’s Peace Camp was planted in Wales, when a woman called Ann Pettit decided to organise the ‘Walk for Life’ from a nuclear weapons factory in Cardiff to the base in Berkshire. The walk was a protest against the American Cruise nuclear missiles that were to be based in silos there. “

“The 120 mile walk left Cardiff on August 27, 1981 with 36 women, 4 men and various children. They arrived at the Main Gate on September 5. It was decided after few days that women would stay there in order to bear witness against the horror such nuclear weapons could unleash on humanity. Eventually a sign was erected in the Suffragette colours ‘Women’s Peace Camp’.”

Hazel Pegg, Greenham Women’s Peace Camp veteran and biological woman, challenging gender stereotypes,  sporting a short haircut, and climbing up fences in Comiso, Sicily

“The camp was closed in September 2000 to make way for the Commemorative and Historic Site on the land that housed the original Women’s Peace Camp at Yellow Gate Greenham Common between the years 1981 and 2000.”

The Green Party has always been an Eco Feminist party and has many Greenham Women amongst its members, including Green Party Women Hazel Pegg (pictured above), Imogen Makepeace, Loppy Oubridge, Sue Williams, Ann Baker, Freda Davis, Jill Turner, Siobhan Scanlan, Alex Geddis, Diana Toynbee and Rachel Hardy.

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