I cannot believe that war is the best solution. No one won the last war, and no one will win the next war.
--Eleanor Roosevelt, 1948 

The education and empowerment of women throughout the world cannot fail to result in a more caring, tolerant, just, and peaceful life for all.
--Aung San Suu Kyi, 1995

The Walk of the Heroines honors the differences that form the fabric of women’s lives. But the Walk also pays tribute to campaigns where women have sought common ground. One of those campaigns—spanning over a century—centers on voicing opposition to war. The above statements by Eleanor Roosevelt and Aung San Suu Kyi, included with thirty other quotes inscribed in the paving on the Walk of the Heroines, are two inspiring examples of women who have envisioned a world without war—a world where conflict could be resolved non-violently.

Whether strolling through the physical site or exploring the website, visitors to the Walk of the Heroines can discover fascinating stories of peace activists—both contemporary and historical figures—and learn from their many achievements and insights. Emma Fofanah is one example of a heroine honored on the Walk for her work as a peace activist. Born in the town of Makeni, Sierra Leone, Fofanah emigrated to the United States in 1987. But the civil war that engulfed Sierra Leone in the 1990s has had a profound impact on her life. With the loss of friends and family, Emma turned grief into social action, becoming a leader in the Sierra Leonean community in Portland; working to promote cross-cultural dialogue and participating in a documentary video and curriculum project on women, war, and the peace movement.

Many names of peace activists are included in a special area on the stage wall honoring those who fought for the rights, freedom, and dignity of women. Whether fighting for better housing or healthcare for immigrants or organizing around the problem of child labor, many of these heroines’ stories  educate us on the connections between war and other forms of social injustice. One example is Jane Addams, the founder of Hull House settlement and an inspiration to the field of social work, became a peace activist in opposition to World War I.

The First World War was a vital front for women organizing as peace activists. Harriet Burton Laidlaw began working in the suffrage movement in the early twentieth century and then went on at the end of the First World War to join calls throughout the globe for the end of militarism. Others, such as Marie Equi and Emma Goldman, went to prison for their opposition to the First World War. After she was released from prison, Goldman was deported from the United States.

After helping to establish the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) in 1909, Florence Kelly was one of the women who helped to establish the Women's International League for Peace and Freedom (WILPF) in 1919, along with Lillian Wald, who also was active in the Women’s Peace Party. Jeannette Pickering Rankin was yet another pioneering founder of WLPF to whom we owe a debt of gratitude. Still active as an organization with chapters in Portland and other cities throughout the United States, WILPF has throughout its history established connections between economic systems and racism and the forces that promote or profit from war.

Many women have drawn on their authority as mothers to speak out against social injustices and to oppose war. In 1861 Julia Ward Howe authored The Battle Hymn as an inspiration to Union soldiers fighting against slavery. Howe's work is now the national anthem for freedom. She also worked for world peace. The "Mother's Day Proclamation," written by Howe, was one of the early calls to celebrate Mother's Day in the United States. Written in 1870, Howe's Mother's Day Proclamation was a pacifist reaction to the carnage of the American Civil War and the Franco-Prussian War. The Proclamation was tied to Howe's feminist belief that women had a responsibility to shape the course of history and the political direction of their societies.