WAND Remarks at Sen. Markey’s “No First Use” Press Conference


On Monday, August 14, WAND's own Kathy Crandall Robinson made remarks at a press conference with Senator Ed Markey (D-MA), lead Senate sponsor of legislation that would prevent any U.S. president from launching a nuclear first strike without authorization from Congress. Read her prepared remarks from the press conference here.

Remarks of Kathy Crandall Robinson at Senator Ed Markey's (D-MA) "No First Use" Press Conference

I want to start with a brief “herstory” that sets a context for this particular moment of nuclear threats and the role of previous generations of women.

In 1961 a small cadre of women led by a self-proclaimed housewife, Dagmar Wilson, were scared and outraged about the nuclear threat: The Berlin Wall went up, U.S.-Soviet nuclear tensions were high, and atmospheric nuclear weapons tests were raining down fallout. With sophisticated organizing tactics like phone trees with rotary dial phones, Dagmar’s group, Women Strike for Peace, organized upwards of 50,000 people to turn out for a one-day strike. This was the largest national women’s peace protest of the 20th century. They called for, “an end to the nuclear arms race not the human race.” And they went on beyond that one-day strike, protesting, demonstrating, and lobbying, and these women played a significant role in achieving a ban on atmospheric nuclear testing in 1963.

In the 1980’s Women’s Action for Nuclear Disarmament, WAND, formed right near here in a kitchen in Cambridge. This was just as the Reagan administration was rattling sabers and increasing military spending. There was palpable fear about nuclear dangers spiraling out of control.

Dr. Helen Caldicott, an Australian physician spoke to growing audiences about the real dangers and impacts of nuclear weapons. In her wake, WAND sprung to life with chapters across the country contributing to the vibrant Nuclear Freeze Movement of the 1980’s.

Sayre Sheldon, a founder of WAND (she was in that Cambridge kitchen) and Edie Allen who joined WAND and helped organize in the 1980’s are here today. Sayre and Edie are still pushing forward towards the new directions of peace and security with WAND – Women’s Action for New Directions.

WAND has been busy in the last decades. We have focused on growing our Women Legislators’ Lobby (WiLL) network of 700+ women state legislators who have particularly drawn attention to the excessive dollars poured into the nuclear enterprise and broade