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Women Cross DMZ

© Niana Liu

In 2015, a group of thirty women from around the world—including Gloria Steinem and Nobel Peace Laureates Leymah Gbowee and Mairead Maguire—crossed the demilitarized zone that divides Korea, meeting with Korean women on either side.

In the years since, Women Cross DMZ (WCDMZ) has been a stellar example of the power of coalitions, grassroots mobilization, and inside organizing. Led by founder and executive director Christine Ahn, its team has educated millions worldwide on the urgent need for peace in Korea and women’s leadership in the peace process; met with senior officials from the U.S., South Korea, and North Korea, and other countries to advocate for diplomacy and a peace agreement to permanently end the Korean War; and mobilized people around the world to press for peace, diplomacy, and women’s inclusion in peacebuilding.

The Korean peninsula was divided after World War II when American military officials drew an arbitrary line on a map. The Korean War (1950-1953), which was only halted by an armistice, cemented this division, separating families and displacing entire communities. At its core, Women Cross DMZ works to not just bring peace to the Korean peninsula, but to completely rethink the normative, top-down, militarized approach to foreign policy that perpetuates endless wars, and instead center justice, peace, and human security. This is crucial: data show that the participation of civil society organizations, including women’s organizations, makes a peace agreement 64% less likely to fail.

For this reason, WCDMZ meets with diplomats and government officials in the US, the United Nations, and both Koreas to advocate for an inclusive peace process that centers and seeks to improve the lived experiences of people on the ground. In 2021, WCDMZ held virtual roundtables with women from Northeast Asia and around the world to envision what a feminist peace might look like in the Korean context. To learn more about WCDMZ’s vision for a “peace-first” approach on the Korean peninsula, download the report below.

Recent grant history

YearProjectGrant Award
2020General Support$225,000 over 3 years
2019General Support$40,000
2018DMZ Crossing and Women’s Peace Symposium$20,000
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