Women, War and Peace

Expand/Collapse Women, War and Peace


Women, War & Peace is a bold five-part PBS television series challenging the conventional wisdom that war and peace are men’s domain. 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. With depth and complexity, Women, War & Peace spotlights the stories of women in conflict zones from Bosnia to Afghanistan and Colombia to Liberia, placing women at the center of an urgent dialogue about conflict and security, and reframing our understanding of modern warfare.

  • A New World Order

    This video from Women, War & Peace explains how the nature of war changed following the end of the Cold War. Large-scale international wars no longer dominate, but instead wars targeting civilians and utilizing small arms are prevalent. Unfortunately, such weapons are difficult to monitor and control and they are thus very dangerous. Women and their dependents are most affected by these wars, and many people believe that in order for successful disarmament, women should play a bigger role in the peace process.

    Grades: 9-12
  • Achieving Peace

    In this video from Women War & Peace, the peace talks in Accra, Ghana have made no progress. Frustrated with the lack of progress, the women in Accra stage a sit-in at the peace hall, essentially locking the delegates in the room. The mood at the peace talks sobers and after two weeks, an agreement is reached. Charles Taylor will be exiled. The women return home to celebrate their victory.

    Grades: 9-12
  • Building The Case

    This video from Women War & Peace describes how historically, rape was not tried as a war crime. Instead, it was categorized more generally, if it was tried at all. The Yugoslav War Crimes Tribunal was the first international court to indict defendants solely on charges of rape and other sexual crimes. Tribunal investigators collected enough evidence in Foca that they were confident they could prove rape was used as a weapon of terror against Muslim women. In addition, 16 women who had experienced sexual violence during the war bravely testified in court.

    Grades: 9-12
  • Cauca's Most Valuable Resources

    In this video segment from Women, War & Peace, Cauca, a resource-rich region in Colombia, is introduced. Cauca and nearby La Toma, a gold-filled mountain, are volatile areas due to their abundant natural resources. Many people are looking to take advantage of the resources in Cauca and La Toma, and the Afro-Columbian communities that have lived in these areas for centuries are now threatened by the potential investors. Without support from the Colombian government, these communities may cease to exist.

    Grades: 9-12
  • The Changing Face of War

    In this lesson students watch and discuss videos from the PBS series Women, War & Peace to explore what warfare in the “new world order” means for the millions of people—especially women—affected by today’s intense but often obscure conflicts.

    Grades: 9-12
  • The Cost of Human Rights | Women, War, & Peace

    This video from Women, War & Peace follows Clemencia Carabali, a community activist from Cauca, as she travels to Washington, D.C. Carabali travels to D.C. to share with congressional staffers the perspective of Cauca’s residents—while the Colombian government has one story to tell, many of its residents have a very different and untold story. Following Carabali’s meeting, the U.S. Department of State takes notice of the land conflict in Colombia and vows to continue monitoring the case, which may help the residents of Cauca in their struggle.

    Grades: 9-12
  • Cycle of Violence

    In this video from Women, War & Peace the eviction date for La Toma’s residents has been set by the mayor. Community leaders and activists, vehemently appealing the eviction, are receiving threats with increasing frequency from groups that claim the residents are “against development”. In reality, the residents are opposed to losing their land and their livelihood. If the eviction notice is acted upon, residents of La Toma will become part of Colombia’s large internally displaced population.

    Grades: 9-12
  • Empowerment

    This video from Women, War & Peace demonstrates the power of women and suggests that in today’s world, especially with the evolution of communication, the presence of women at peace talks is necessary and inevitable. In October 2000, the United Nations Security Council passed the first resolution, Resolution 1325, devoted to women, after intense pressure from female activists. Resolution 1325 stipulated that at peace building and reconstruction negotiations, women must be considered. Despite the resolution, women still struggle to be heard and included in such negotiations, but they continue to fight for their rights.

    Grades: 9-12
  • Human Security | Women, War & Peace

    In this video from Women, War & Peace, the idea of “human security” is introduced. When civilians feel unsafe, it is difficult for their states to become secure. Human security, as opposed to national security, is an individual’s and or a community’s feeling of security. In order to improve human security in Afghanistan, the U.S. military assembled Female Engagement Teams (FETs) comprised solely of women who venture into communities and connect with local Afghan women. Prior to the establishment of the FETs, male soldiers from the U.S. could not interact with Afghan women.

    Grades: 9-12
  • In Pursuit of Democracy

    This video from Women War & Peace shows the Liberian women’s commitment to maintaining peace in their country. Despite their victory in Accra, Ghana, when they return home they vow to stay active. The first step is to forgive the rebels who brought so much violence to their country. Many of these rebels were child soldiers, and were victims as much as the civilians in Liberia. The women also began fighting for an elected democracy in hopes of maintaining peace. In January 2006 their persistence paid off—Ellen Johnson Sirleaf was elected president.

    Grades: 9-12
  • Judgment And Legacy

    This video from Women War & Peace reveals the verdict of the Yugoslav War Crimes Tribunal. In a historical verdict, the three defendants, all commanders in the Bosnian Serb army, were found guilty. While the Tribunal could not prosecute everyone involved, the trial was symbolic and the verdict established sexual enslavement as a crime against humanity, setting a precedent for future wars. The trial also raised awareness of the use of rape as a weapon of terror and demonstrated that there would potentially be consequences for anyone using rape as a weapon during wartime.

    Grades: 9-12
  • Legal Struggles | Women, War, and Peace

    This video from Women, War & Peace explains how the legal struggles of Cauca and La Toma began 10 years ago when Héctor Sarria was granted a license to mine gold in the mountain. In early 2010 he sped up his plan to begin mining. According to Sarria, his license says there are no indigenous communities in La Toma, despite the fact that Afro-Colombians have lived and worked there for generations. Sarria requested and was granted the right to evict any Afro-Colombian miners working in La Toma—1,300 families whose livelihoods depend on mining face eviction.

    Grades: 9-12
  • Life During and After Taliban Rule

    This video from Women, War & Peace shows what life was like during and after the Taliban took power, from 1996-2001. Their interpretation of Islam was very strict and life was difficult for women. Following the end of the Taliban’s rule, many women pushed for modernization and inclusion in the government. Specifically, many women wanted to attend a peace Jirga held by Hamid Karzai, the president of Afghanistan. Initially only a small number of seats were given to women, but following pressure from Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, 20 percent of the seats were promised to women.

    Grades: 9-12
  • Neighbor On Neighbor

    In this video from Women War & Peace, the 1993 establishment of the Yugoslav War Crimes Tribunal is discussed. The Tribunal was the first international war crimes court to be organized during a war, and it was also the first international war crimes court in Europe since Nuremberg. According to Peggy Kuo, one of the Tribunal prosecutors, what was most devastating about the Yugoslav war was that it was “neighbor on neighbor.”

    Grades: 9-12
  • Peaceful Protests

    This lesson uses video from Women, War & Peace: “Pray the Devil Back to Hell,” to help students learn about nonviolent resistance movements that have taken place around the world.

    Grades: 9-12
  • Peaceful Protests in Liberia

    In this video from Women War & Peace, war is approaching and the women realize they need to intensify their strategy. They dress in white clothes and stage daily protests at the local fish market. Once again, Muslim and Christian women unite for peace. Despite their efforts, Charles Taylor refuses to meet with the women. In order to gain more traction, the women organize a sex strike to sway the men to join their peace efforts.

    Grades: 9-12
  • Populations at Risk: The Problems Facing Internally Displaced Persons Worldwide

    In this lesson, students use video segments from the PBS series Women, War & Peace, as well as information from the Internal Displacement Monitoring Centre and the United Nations to learn more about internally displaced populations.

    Grades: 9-12
  • Return to the Land?

    This video from Women, War & Peace demonstrates the determination of residents of La Toma. Less than two weeks after a new Colombian president takes power, vowing to return stolen land, residents of La Toma learn that local police will be enforcing the pending eviction notice the following day. Determined to remain on their land, residents organize and are prepared to protest the eviction. On the scheduled eviction day, a government official arrives and announces the order has been temporarily suspended. However, residents of La Toma will continue to fight for the land that is rightfully theirs.

    Grades: 9-12
  • Steps Toward Peace

    This video from Women War & Peace describes Charles Taylor’s refusal to attend peace talks. As a result, the peace-seeking women inform Parliament they will continue their protests until they hear from Taylor. Finally, Taylor agrees to meet with the women. Leymah Gbowee reads a statement to Taylor and other members of the government expressing the women’s demands for peace. Taylor agrees to go to the peace talks in Accra, Ghana. The women also make the journey to Accra to continue their protests and to appeal individually to delegates.

    Grades: 9-12
  • Supporting the Women of Afghanistan

    This video from Women, War & Peace highlights the continued struggle of women in Afghanistan to be included in the peace and rebuilding process. Though the United Nations made an international stipulation that women must be included in any conflict resolution, women are barely involved in such processes. However, Afghan women will continue to fight—they fear their rights will be sacrificed in Afghanistan’s struggle for peace, and they believe their presence at peace talks is crucial to rebuild a sustaining peace.

    Grades: 9-12

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