German-French Sisterhood & Bridge of Peace

December 8-9, 2007 - Strasbourg, France
Culture-of-Peace/Bridge-of-Peace/Bridge-of-Peace-2007

The Atmosphere was sparkling...

Strasbourg was the perfect location for the second "German-French Sisterhood and the Bridge of Peace."  Not only is the Alsatian capitol half-way between Paris and Frankfurt, but due to historical reasons, Alsace was over the course of history unwillingly "traded" between Germany and France. To backtrack, the first German-French Sisterhood was held in Paris, May 2003, and now there was a yearning on both sides of the Rhine to gather once again.

Following lunch on Saturday, 08.12.07, Katrin Plane and Ingrid Lindemann, respective Presidents of the two Women's Federations greeted the attendees. Next Christine Sato, Secretary of the German Women's Federation, lectured on the topic, "The Dignity of Women: Yesterday and Today". As one can sustain from this presentation, it is utterly vital to understand the role of women and her value in history in order to gain a clear picture of the present situation in regards to related social ills, for example, female prostitution and trafficking, and household violence. After a break Ingrid Lindemann presented a talk entitled, "Living our Dignity":  Dignity begins within each woman, and after it is anchored in her, can her husband and family acquire dignity, going on to say that if women's dignity exists on a larger scale, then degrading advertisement, pornography, prostitution, FGM, widow burning, honor killing and rape will decrease in scale.

The discussions which followed these two talks were quite lively.  Not only the interaction between the conference participants was emotional, but translation was required introducing another perimeter.  In addition, one guest from Chad boldly stated that she would like to present this material in her home country, so overjoyed was she by the contents.

During the evening program Katrin Plane and Brigitte Wada, Gen. Secy. of the French Women's Federation explained and guided the attendees through "The Bridge of Peace".  This was the highlight of the event, as women from Germany and France embraced.  The joy which was manifested was truly a sign that hundreds of years of animosities have clearly come to an end. In addition, due to the extension of the German and French spheres of influence beyond their borders over the centuries, an African woman, wife of a diplomat living in Paris, crossed the Bridge with a German women.  Translation was ongoing and the atmosphere was sparkling, as if fireworks had just gone off!

Sunday, 09.12.08, was primarily reserved for the Christmas Market in Strasbourg, a time to ramble by the stalls, visit the famous cathedral and merely enjoy one another's company. As the afternoon wore on, the participants began their journey home, with the intention to meet once again in the very near future, most likely in Strasbourg.

The crux of European unity lies with Germany and France, though when women of these two nations embrace one another, the thought of war cannot exist.  Peace is implanted and mothers will never need to send their sons to war!

Ann Kosco Schaffner, Vice-President, Women's Federation for Peace, Germany