Catherine Elizabeth Marshall to the Women's International League for Peace and Freedom, October 1921

International  Headquarters. 6, rue du Vieux Collège,
Geneva (Switzerland).


Believing that universal total disarmament is the only sure guarantee of international peace, the Women's International League for Peace and Freedom views with horror the great post-war increase of expenditure on armies and navies in the Allied countries, is shown by the figures below.

1913-14 1920-21
United States ... $316,000,000
Britain ... £28,416,000. £164,750,000.
France ... Frs. 913,750,000
Frs. 4,952,000,000.
Frs. 6,546,000,000.
Japan ... Yen. 97,545,515
Yen. 230,000,000

When in July the International Congress met in Vienna under the presidency of Miss Jane Addams, the women of 26 nations assembled there were gratified to hear that President Harding had summoned representatives of Japan, Britain, France, Italy, and China to meet members of the American Government in Washington to discuss disarmament and Far Eastern questions.

The delegates at Vienna saw in the projected Washington Conference an opportunity given to the three foremost naval powers to lead the way in lessening the wasteful and devastating expenditure on military force which is impoverishing the world and debasing international relations.

They welcomed especially the following words contained in President Harding's Invitation --

"The enormous disbursements in rivalries of armaments manifestly constitutes a greater part of encumbrance upon enterprise and national prosperity, and avoidable or extravagant expense of this nature is not only without economic justification, but is a constant menace to the peace of the world rather than an assurance of its preservations."

The National Sections therefore determined each in its own country to awaken interest in the Washington Conference and to ask its government to support this effort towards disarmament.

The women of the British Section of the W.I.L.P.F. therefore venture to approach their representative as the American women are approaching theirs and urge upon them that if the Washington Conference is to result in an agreed immediate reduction in armaments the representatives of Britain must give a lead which will inspire the confidence and strengthen the will to peace of the other countries concerned. If to secure this end the nations find it necessary to check an aggressive foreign policy or to withdraw from spheres of influence now occupied, or even to abandon designs of enlargement of territory already conceived, we believe that the greatness of the resulting gain in confidence and security will be [in] proportion to the sacrifice made.

We would recall that the mariners who discovered the New World set sail on an uncharted sea, and yet their voyage was crowned by the opening up of a Continent and the enlargement of the resources and the horizons of mankind. We believe that the same reward will wait upon the efforts of those statesmen at Washington who initiate the voyage in search of a New World set free from the burden of armaments and the fear of war.