Women, War, and Peace Sheds Light on the Changing Ways of War and Peace
By Abigail Disney, Pamela Hogan and Gini Reticker
Reviewed by Montserrat Castanon and Sacha Wynne
Issue 10 Winter 2012
There are many accounts of war, but few are told from the perspective of its invisible soldiers: civilian women. PBS’ documentary Women, War and Peace confronts this issue, spotlighting those sidelined during battle.
In five episodes, Women, War, and Peace sheds light on the stories of struggle, survival, and strength of women in various areas of conflict throughout the world. The first, “I Came to Testify,” is a soul-shattering introduction; a terrifying account lived by the Bosnian women during their country’s civil war. “Pray the devil back to hell”, the second chapter, presents the consequences of civil war in Liberia, Africa. The third chapter, “Peace Unveiled,” tells the story of Afghan women and their insatiable fight for civil rights. The fourth is “The War We are Leaving,” a case in Colombia, where the Afro-Colombian communities struggle for land rights against the government and the guerrillas. “War Redefined,” the fifth and final episode of the series, analyzes the metamorphosis of modern warfare and the consequences of conflict without a “front”.
The stories chronicle the impact made by women during and after civil war as they fought to bring their communities back from the brink of devastation to a state of peace and resilience. One such story is of Leymah Gbowee, who was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 2011 “for [her] non-violent struggle for the safety of women and for women’s rights to full participation in peace-building work.”1 Gbowee led a women’s peace movement that, after months of peaceful demonstrations and tactics such as a sex strike, helped end the Liberian Civil War in 2003. The message of “We are tired! We are tired of our children being killed! We are tired of being raped! Women, wake up – you have a voice in the peace process!”2 resonates still to women throughout the world.
Women, War, and Peace gives an eye opening view into current-day conflict and the reality in which wars fought soldier-to-soldier is a thing of the past. The series shows that today, war tactics increasingly consider civilians as targets.
Women are responding by challenging conventional wisdom that only the traditional key actors in war should be the key actors in peace.
They are shifting the focus from politics to peace, from revenge to rights. Women, War and Peace emphasizes the pivotal role of women to the advancement of harmony and design of peace.
The five-part series, which originally aired in 2011, is now available for online viewing at PBS’ documentary Women, War and Peace.
1 “The Nobel Peace Prize 2011 – Press Release”. Nobelprize.org. 2011-10-07.
2 Gbowee, L and Mithers, C. (2011). Mighty Be Our Powers. Page 127. New York: Beast Books