Monday, March 26, 2012

Women as Peacemakers and as Warriors

The Atlantic Monthly recently ran an article by Diana Wueger entitled, "Women in War, Women in Peace." Wueger gives an excellent overview of the role woman have played during and after conflicts, both as victims of war crimes and as witnesses and negotiators of post-war peace, reconciliation and judicial efforts. This piece introduces the recent five-part PBS series, Women, War and Peace. This series includes the documentaries,  Pray the Devil Back to Hell,  the "story of the Liberian women who took on the warlords and regime of dictator Charles Taylor in the midst of a brutal civil war and won a once unimaginable peace for their shattered country in 2003." Of the film on women in Afghanistan, Wueger writes:

 . . .  follows three women who immediately began to organize to make sure that women’s rights don’t get traded away in the deal. One is a savvy parliamentarian who participated in writing the Afghan constitution that guarantees equality for women; another, a former midwife who is one of the last women’s rights advocates alive in Kandahar; and the third, a young activist who lives in a traditional family in Kabul. Convinced that the Taliban will have demands that jeopardize women’s hard-earned gains, they maneuver against formidable odds to have their voices heard in a peace jirga and high peace council.
I also saw this documentary on women in Lebanon presented by Al Jazeera called Women Warriors. In this piece:
Lebanese Muslim and Christian women reflect on the days when they were fighters and talk about how it has impacted their lives. Through the eyes of women who fought on the frontlines, this film offers a fresh perspective on the Lebanese civil war and a contemporary insight into Lebanon today, the role of women there, and the relationship between women and violence. 
Another film, I Came to Testify, is the story of 16 women who took the witness stand in an international court of law for rape crimes committed as an act of ethnic cleansing during the Bosnian war in the 1990s. For a fictional account of this heinous act I recommend Angelina's Jolie's recently released, In the Land of Blood and Honey. I think this film is intelligent and gripping. The extraordinary actors work with a script that illuminates the complexities of this terrible war, humanizing but not eliminating the horror. Another film should be of interest to those interested in America's role in Afghanistan. From the five-part series on PBS the documentary, Peace Unveiled:
I've uploaded on this blog a few trailers for these films. I hope this presents a good way to end Women's History Month, looking at the strength and courage of women tested  in a venue traditionally gendered male, sagas of women around the world waging war and peace in times of political and social conflict. 


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