'Let the male and female of God's creating appear'

The conference this month in Geneva, Switzerland, the Global Peace Initiative of Women Religious and Spiritual Leaders, marks an important step toward the world's acknowledgement of the qualities women have to offer in developing a more balanced perspective in the pursuit of peace.

Over the centuries, women have played important roles in peace and in war. For example, in the earliest known extant poem in English, Beowulf, which tells the epic story of a Scandinavian warrior in the sixth century, the king's daughter, Freawaru, is given in marriage to Ingeld, a prince from a warring enemy. She is called a "peace weaver," and though she does not have her own power, that name indicates she embodies the actual joining of two previously warring entities in a peaceful settlement.

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