WAND builds women's political power to advocate for security and peace with justice. We believe that women are central to shifting the militarized, patriarchal culture that pervades our society and leads to endless war and violence.
WAND works to promote diplomacy and demilitarize U.S. foreign policy, elevate women’s voices in conversations about national security policy, and educate and engage women legislators and Members of Congress on peace and security issues.
In order to achieve a safer and more secure world, our focus includes, but is not limited to (1) eliminating the threat of nuclear war; (2) ensuring women’s voices are integrated in peacebuilding agendas; and (3) advocating for a federal budget that promotes diplomacy and rejects defense spending that comes at the expense of everyday Americans.
A brief history of WAND written by board member Sayre Sheldon.
Founded in 1982 as Women's Action for Nuclear Disarmament by Helen Caldicott in Cambridge, MA, WAND first focused on bringing women into the discussion about nuclear weapons.
In the beginning, the organization was small and run by volunteers. However, the demand was great: thousands upon thousands of outraged U.S. citizens believed that the very future of the planet was being threatened by the arms race. The organization moved to become larger and more professional, and to both educate on policy choices and lobby to make policy.
WAND was structured as two sister organizations: one educational and supported by tax-deductible contributions, the other political and supported by dues from its members. Eventually, a third program - WAND PAC - was born. The Board of Directors realized how important it was to endorse candidates and raise money for their campaigns (In the 1980s, as few women were running for Congress, most of the money went to men. With a dramatic shift in the numbers of women running for Congress in the 1990s, the PAC decided to give to WAND and WiLL members running for Congress.).
For years, it was a heady time for the organization. Helen, a charismatic speaker, regularly appeared on major TV programs (e.g., Phil Donahue’s show), often with well-known celebrities (e.g., Meryl Streep). When she did, letters poured in by the thousands. Outraged, citizens begged Helen and WAND to do something. Helen traveled the country, and thousands of volunteers rallied. The Peace Movement and the Nuclear Freeze historically played a role in the end of the MX missile, and forced nuclear disarmament summits.
In 1985, WAND opened its Washington, DC office, forging a link between the grassroots and Congress. Today, WAND is a major presence within the peace and security community on Capitol Hill, firmly established in both the peace and women’s communities.
In 1991, after the Cold War had wound down, the climate had changed enough so that WAND changed its name to Women’s Action for New Directions. The name brought with it a broadened mission: world peace and security, nuclear disarmament, and redirecting excessive military spending toward human and environmental needs.
As the peace movement dwindled, WAND wisely recognized the need to create a different kind of grassroots organization, and reached out to women state legislators. Most women Members of Congress come from state legislatures. WiLL, the Women Legislators’ Lobby, is a national, non-partisan network of women state legislators who work together to influence federal policy and budget priorities. In 2003, we founded Trailblazers, a network of former legislators whose contacts and influence continue to have an impact on national priorities and foreign policy issues.
For the past few years, WAND has been broadening its circle and building on relationships with organizations that care about similar issues. We have established partnerships with organizations that care about human and environmental needs. We have forged coalitions with organizations that have struggled to prevent and stop the war in Iraq. The peace movement has gathered new strength, and WAND is there to lend expertise and experience.
Today, WAND is well known as a force to be reckoned with: professional, knowledgeable, relentless.