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The Story of Mia And The Women Peacemakers

14/05/2015 12:56 BST | Updated 13/05/2016 10:59 BST

100 years ago, Germany's first female jurist, a former actress named Anita Augspurg, organised a 1,200-strong international women's congress in The Hague delivering a simple message to world leaders: no more war.

These determined women would soon be holding audiences with heads of both warring and neutral states, including the President of the United States, proposing plans to end the First World War and implement lasting peace in Europe.

This movement, the first of its kind in history, gave birth to the Women's International League for Peace and Freedom (WILPF) an organisation that 100 years later is still going strong. The significant contribution of women war resisters and peacemakers through the 20th and 21st centuries will be remembered at this year's International Conscientious Objectors' (CO) day ceremony which will take place this Friday in Tavistock Square in London.

Women still face massive issues in conflict zones across the world as victims of sexual violence, being denied basic rights, or being forced into the military by means of conscription.

One of these conscripts is Mia Tamarin who served multiple prison sentences in Israeli jails as a conscientious objector. Mia on the eve of her 4th jail sentence said this of her dilemma:

"I cannot become part of an organization the purpose of which is to fend off violence by violence, because it stands unequivocally contrary to everything I believe in and to my whole life. There always is another, non-violent option, and it is this option that I choose."

This year's CO day ceremony will be led by Mia who will share stories from Israel, bringing to life the reality of being born in a state that forces young people to take up national service or face prison and public shame. She will be joined by Sheila Triggs, a representative of WILPF, who will speak on the history of women peacemakers - such as two WILPF campaigners who received Nobel peace prizes.

Conscientious Objectors still face considerable persecution in the 64 countries in which conscription operates and every year thousands of COs are imprisoned despite "freedom of thought, religion and conscience" being the centre piece of the United Nations Declaration of Human Rights.

Whilst conscription may be a long forgotten problem in the United Kingdom, there are many who view taxation as a system of financial conscription, and have long campaigned for a provision that would allow conscientious objectors to have the military portion of their taxes spent on more peaceful conflict resolution.

One such group is the Peace Tax Seven - a group of campaigners who actively withhold a portion of their taxes until a provision is given to them to ensure their money won't be spent on military activity. In 2014 an Early Day Motion asking MPs to provide a mechanism for conscientious objectors to redirect the military portion of their taxes towards peacebuilding gained the support of 10 MPs in the House of Commons.

Whilst much media attention is given to those who serve in the armed services, I hope you will join me on International CO day to give recognition to those who have given their life and liberty to protect those who refuse to kill.

This Friday, people of all faiths and none will hear the stories of women conscientious objectors and peacemakers. Meet at 12 noon in Tavistock Square where a stone memorial commemorates the conscientious objectors of all countries and every period of history.