This plenary lecture looks towards GWI’s future by honouring the contribution to the IFUW of the Brussels-based teacher Dr Germaine Hannevart (1887-1977). It asks what questions Hannevart’s IFUW engagements raise about the nature of peace and about the peacebuilding activities of international women’s organisations, including as they work through supra-international organisations like the UN and when connecting with other international women’s organisations. It also asks how GWI might use individual, national, international and transnational histories of the type exemplified by Hannevart in shaping GWI’s future.
In 1939 Hannevart addressed the IFUW conference as IFUW vice-president and president of the Belgian Federation of University Women. Her speech linked nationalism and internationalism, education and peace, feminism and the international spirit, and complemented her 1936 IFUW address in which she touched on the role of education in fostering dictatorship or democracy. Feminist, educational and peace activism thread through Hannevart’s IFUW and wider commitments. From 1926 she convened the IFUW committee on the exchange of information about secondary education, from 1937 she was a member of the IFUW’s special committee for the emergency assistance of university women (forerunner of Hegg Hoffet) and from 1947 she convened the IFUW cultural relations committee, which dealt with education. In addition to her IFUW activities Hannevart campaigned nationally for the employment rights of Belgian married women (1934) and managed Basque children’s evacuation to Belgium during the Spanish Civil War (1937). More recently digitised sources show that in 1951 she came under fire in Korea as a member of a women’s commission investigating war crimes against women and children and chemical warfare. The paper ends by raising questions about how GWI might look to its past to shape its future by using the complexities that the digitisation of historical sources is bringing to IFUW history.
Joyce Goodman, Looking to the Future, Looking to the Past: Shaping GWI Peacebuilding and GWIs Future with IFUW’s History, plenary presentation at the GWI Centenary Conference, University of Geneva, 25-28 July.