Warriors & Peacemakers: Innovative PBS Documentary Series ‘Women, War and Peace’ Explores Women’s Role in Conflict

As crystallized in the coverage of the North African revolutions, journalists, media pundits and the public often forget women’s participation in conflict and security. When people discuss war, they often don’t take women or gender into account. Women become the forgotten collateral. Yet they consistently play a pivotal role. Women govern and lead their communities, serve in the military, become refugees, survive rape and assault, mourn lost loved ones, negotiate peace and protest for change. Starting October 11th, PBS will air the groundbreaking 5-part series Women, War and Peace that asks the question: “What if we looked at war as though women mattered?” Featuring women in Afghanistan, Bosnia, Columbia and Liberia, each film will examine and showcase different aspects affecting women and security. Executive producers and series creators Abigail E. Disney, Pamela Hogan and Gini Reticker yearned to fill the media gap in women’s participation in war, to move beyond the preconceived notion that “war and peace are men’s domain.” From the website’s description, the series is about how:
“The vast majority of today’s conflicts are not fought by nation states and their armies, but rather by informal entities: gangs and warlords using small arms and improvised weapons. The series reveals how the post-Cold War proliferation of small arms has changed the landscape of war, with women becoming primary targets and suffering unprecedented casualties. Yet they are simultaneously emerging as necessary partners in brokering lasting peace and as leaders in forging new international laws governing conflict.”
Having previously worked at Harvard University in a center researching issues pertaining to women and public policy, I know the importance of including a gender lens in the realm of negotiations and security. I’m absolutely thrilled this groundbreaking documentary series will explore an often forgotten yet vital component of war and peace.   Here are each of the 5 films that will air with descriptions from the documentary’s website: Part 1: I Came to Testify is the moving story of how a group of 16 women who had been imprisoned and raped by Serb-led forces in the Bosnian town of Foca broke history’s great silence – and stepped forward to take the witness stand in an international court of law. Their remarkable courage resulted in a triumphant verdict that led to new international laws about sexual violence in war. Part 2: Pray the Devil Back to Hell is the astonishing 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. Part 3: When the U.S. troop surge was announced in late 2009, women in Afghanistan knew that the ground was being laid for peace talks with the Taliban. Peace Unveiled follows three women in Afghanistan who are risking their lives to make sure that women’s rights don’t get traded away in the deal. Part 4: The War We Are Living travels to Cauca, a mountainous region in Colombia’s Pacific southwest, where two extraordinary Afro-Colombian women are braving a violent struggle over their gold-rich lands. They are standing up for a generation of Colombians who have been terrorized and forcibly displaced as a deliberate strategy of war. Part 5: War Redefined, the capstone of Women, War & Peace, challenges the conventional wisdom that war and peace are men’s domain through incisive interviews with leading thinkers, Secretaries of State and seasoned survivors of war and peace-making. Interviewees include Secretary of State Hillary Clinton; Liberian peace activist Leymah Gbowee; Bosnian war crimes investigator Fadila Memisevic; and globalization expert Moisés Naím. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=q3A3YgzjK-I&feature=player_embedded Each part in Women, War and Peace will air on consecutive Tuesday nights on PBS from October 11th through November 8th. I’ll be blogging my thoughts and reactions after each documentary. So be sure to watch the series, read my follow-up posts and share your thoughts. How do you think the series will change how we view women in conflict?   This piece is cross-posted with permission from Opinioness of the World.

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