Voice of Women: The First Thirty Years

Margo Pineau And Cathy Reeves (authors); Pineau Productions Inc., 1992

By Wendy Eifel (reviewer) | 1992-09-01 12:00:00

As a stranger to the struggle against nuclear war by the industrialized world, there was nevertheless much that was familiar to me in the documentary Voice of Women-The First Thirty Years, produced and directed by Margo Pineau and Cathy Reeves and released this summer by the Canadian Voice of Women for Peace.

In word and gesture it was the language of the struggle by women who today, everywhere in the world, are rejecting passionately and relentlessly the violence which lies at the very core of the current world culture, and which finds state expression in wars.

The pattern of VOW's struggle is pieced together clearly and simply, moving easily from the yellowing past to the brightly colored present. The research is comprehensive, the archival footage telling. The story itself spans continents. Sometimes it is heroic, as for example when VOW chartered a train from Montreal to Ottawa in order to confront Prime Minister Diefenbaker in Parliament; and when American women activists, led by an African-American, crossed the bridge ;'t Niagara to meet with their Vietnamese sisters who were banned from the U.S. The music, part chant, part lament, complements the story.

The documentary illustrates many facets of the women's struggle:


-"We thought that all we had to do was to tell people and people would believe us"- Muriel Duckworth

-"We thought that the authorities were interested in what we were interested in, that is, the welfare of the people"-Dr Ursula Franklin


-"There was something pathetically foolish about the appearance at the Parliament Buildings in Ottawa, by a group of matrons styling themselves with the pompous and certainly unappealing title of Voice of Women....a bunch of women running around as if their heads had been cut off.."


-"We were told by one rifle manufacturer that our sons would probably grow up to be homosexuals if we didn't let them play with guns."- Anne Postans


-"This organization has been completely infiltrated by the Communists and taken over."-RCMP undercover agent, Calvin McDonald


-"We do not accept that there are women in the world who are enemies. War is obsolete. War is obscene. There is no Holy War. No just war."-Mady Gilchrist and finally,

The VOW vision is shown evolving over time from opposition to nuclear war to concern with all forms of violence in society. For all forms of violence are linked: Stella LeJohn, who works in a women's shelter, attests in the film that domestic violence surged during the Gulf War.

-"Peace is not just the absence of war. Peace is also not being afraid of being unemployed; of being beaten by your husband; or, of a knock on the door, as in Latin America; or of having your land taken away like the Inuit in Canada, or the Palestinians, or the Tibetans; or fear of a nuclear holocaust. Peace means to be free to think, to be free of fear. "-Mady Gilchrist

DEC and VOW will be showing the video sometime in the fall. To obtain a copy in the meantime, contact Pineau Productions, 199 Pearson Ave. Toronto, Ontario M6R 1G6.

Review by Wendy Eifel of VOW

Peace Magazine Sep-Oct 1992

Peace Magazine Sep-Oct 1992, page 25. Some rights reserved.

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