Women Building Peace

In October 2000, the United Nations Security Council adopted Resolution 1325 on women, peace, and security. It was high international recognition following years of work by women’s groups and peace activists on the ground worldwide. "Civilians, particularly women and children, account for the vast majority of those adversely affected by armed conflict," the resolution read, "including as refugees and internally displaced persons, and increasingly are targeted by combatants and armed elements."

Three years later, the U.N. Development Fund for Women was treated to the world premiere of Peace by Peace: Women on the Frontlines, a feature-length documentary profiling women peace builders in places of conflict. For one year, an all-women camera crew followed women in action in Afghanistan, Burundi, the United States, Argentina, and Bosnia. The film includes footage of the devastating violence each country suffered, but it is surprisingly—and effectively—hopeful.

In Afghanistan, director Lisa Hepner trained her cameras on women who for years were forced to educate women and girls underground, because of the Taliban. They are still educating other females. Almost two-thirds of illiterate adults in the country are women, according to UNESCO, and the education of women and girls makes them less likely to be led into violence. "In Paghman (Afghanistan), the girls were willing to risk their safety for the possibility of joining their male counterparts and shaping their own destiny," said cinematographer Sandra Chandler. In Burundi, viewers meet Hutu and Tutsi women running a radio station and working to overcome the "radio hate" that fuels ethnic violence.

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Sojourners Magazine November 2004
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