Video: March for Peace by Women Wage Peace
The launching of Women Wage Peace
Michal Shamir is an artist, Head of the School of Art and Culture at the Sapir College in Sderot, a development town in southern Israel four kilometers from Gaza strip, and a mother of four. Michal was born into a family that has felt the pains of war. The brother of her father died during the War of Independence in 1948, and the brother of her mother was killed during a military action in the Gaza strip, in 1957. The same year that she was born.
When she was 17, the Yom Kippur war broke out and during four months she worked with wounded soldiers in hospitals. Her B.A. in Art and Education enabled her to guide tours in Jordan and Egypt and establish contacts there. In the late 80’s she received an M.A. in Arts from the School of Visual Arts in New York and specialized in gender studies. During all these years Michal was involved in efforts to promote peace in the region between Israel and its Arab neighbors.
In 2005, Michal Shamir, together with her colleagues, established the School of Art and Culture at the Sapir College, which is the only Art school in the area. The school is located 4 km from the border with the Gaza strip and, under the shadow of the ongoing military conflict, Bedouins study together with new immigrants from Ethiopia and Eastern Europe, religious people with secular Israelis. The Art School considers fine art a part of a comprehensive and international cultural whole and works to train young artists as creative people, in touch with their environment and the society they live in. The School of Art shares a common social justice agenda and committed to deep engagement with peripheral and marginalized communities with the goal of sharing academic knowledge and “lived experience” as the basis for partnership in the promotion of social change. The School of Art has used creative thinking and diverse artistic methods to engage with communities in the Negev region.
The last military conflicts between the Gaza strip and Israel: operation Protective Edge, in 2014, led to the founding of “Women Wage Peace”. Michal was one of the founders of this grass-roots movement and remain an active member until today. As one of the founders, Shamir was highly involved in creating the structure of the movement and took active part in several committees. Women Wage Peace is the largest peace movement in Israel managed and sustained by women. The movement works throughout the country to raise awareness and creates opportunities for dialogue. The movement also organizes national events, such as demonstrations and protests, in order to pressure decision makers to work toward reaching a viable peace agreement. The movement aims for the participation of women in all peace initiatives, as mandated by the U.N. Security Council Resolution 1325.