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Free Trade and the Women’s Peace Movement: A Forgotten History

Palen Marc-William, University of Exeter

This paper takes a long look at the economic ideas behind feminist peace internationalism from the First World War to the end of the war in Vietnam. Suffragists across the globe joined forces during the war, ushering in a large-scale women’s peace movement that still exists today with groups like the Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom (WILPF), which was created in 1919. This paper explores how leading feminist peace reformers and organizations like WILPF envisioned free trade and free markets as a necessary economic foundation for obtaining world peace, and counted among the most outspoken advocates for economic liberalism during this period. This decades-long feminist struggle for free trade and peace, I argue, would also help lay the groundwork for the international turn to trade liberalisation after the Second World War.

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Keywords: Free Trade, Feminism, Peace, Cobdenism, Manchester School, economic liberalism

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