Port of Call LAST UPDATE October 24, 2006
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September 6, 2006 Rome (Civitavecchia), Italy – Women in Black
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Two photos of Italian women hanging in the Casa Internazionale delle Donne
Women in Black began their activities in Jerusalem in 1988, 20 years after Israel occupied the West Bank and Gaza and one year after the first Intifada rose as the Palestinian resistance movement against Israeli military aggression. Israeli Jewish women began to organize silent vigils to show solidarity with the people of Palestine and to take a stand against the horrors of war that often most effect women and their children. As the movement grew, they initiated other activities, including visits to female Palestinians in Israeli prisons, and collaborations with Women in Black in Palestine.

In Italy that same year, a group of women came together to start a project called “Women Visiting Difficult Places”, with the purpose of promoting dialogue between all sides of a conflict in various areas around the world. After visiting Women in Black in Jerusalem, they returned to Italy to start their own Donne in Nero (‘Women in Black’ in Italian) and opened chapters in Rome, Milan, Bologna, Turin, Ravenna, Padua and Verona.
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CC Mai Ohno with WIB members Patricia Tough and Nadia Cervoni
Peace Boat’s 54th voyage was the first to provide participants the chance to visit Donne in Nero’s Casa Internazionale delle Donne (International Women’s Center) in Rome, the main office for Women in Black activities in Italy. Here participants had a chance to talk with women who worked in different departments of the organization, including the archivist for the library, which holds an extensive collection of women’s testimonies, and chronicles the women’s movement around the world.
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Peace Boat participants presenting the history of the women’s movement in Japan
During the information exchange, members of Donne in Nero gave personal testimonies about their experiences with divorce, abortion, discrimination in the workplace, and feminists in art, as well as a presentation on the history of the development of women’s rights in Italy. In return Peace Boat participants gave a presentation about the development of women’s rights in Japan. This was followed by a recital of feminist poems by Done in Nero member, Pilar Castel. Many participants, especially the more senior women, were surprised to find that they shared very similar experiences with the Italian women. In the evening we enjoyed a beautiful dinner in the courtyard of the Casa Internazionale delle Donne, prepared by their restaurant. Here women had the opportunity to exchange stories about their experiences over wine and a ‘slow food’ meal.