#20 Women on the Frontlines (April 2011)
!! This newsletter celebrates women!!
Its theme, its focus, is on how women can be, are, and should be on the front lines of a great, historical change in which, to paraphrase the visionary Martin Luther King, Jr., the people of the world unite to bend the arc of history toward nonviolence. Reading about what women have done and are doing may inspire you. The essay "Changing the Biological Chemistry to Nonviolence Movements" may cause you to think about nonviolence protest in a new way.
Women of Liberia Win Peace
Are you a skeptic, quite sure it would be impossible to abolish war? Maybe you think most especially that there is no way for a nonviolent strategy to succeed in changing how we live for the better if it means ending war.
Skeptics tend to feel nonviolence can't work for a variety of reasons. Often it's because they're unaware of successful applications. The media do not place much emphasis on nonviolent successes.
A remarkable contemporary example comes out of Liberia, a small country in West Africa. Christian and Muslim women banded together. Their story is told in a fine documentary film Pray the Devil Back to Hell. Read the inspiring story of what Liberia's women accomplished. It serves as both metaphor and model for how citizens united and unafraid can end the madness of war.
A viewing guide stressing the principles of nonviolent direct action
is available, download it from the AFWW site.
When asked if working to abolish war might be too big a goal, too ambitious, Abigail Disney, the producer of "Pray the Devil Back to Hell" said, "I think we should commit ourselves to fighting for something that is so big that we will never live to see it because otherwise we're not fighting for something big enough."
(in a talk at the Joan B. Kroc Institute for Peace and Justice, March 2011).
Peace Ethologist Judith Hand -- Women, Nonviolent Actions, Women as Key to Ending War
Evolutionary biologist and peace ethologist Judith Hand was inspired by the women of Liberia and the successful struggle of the women of the United States to win the vote. She offers essays on putting women on the front lines of nonviolent actions of civil disobedience whenever circumstances allow. This simple tactic changes the chemistry of the interaction from one between two opposed male groups to one in which male defenders of the status quo are being challenged by women: their mothers, daughters, and grandmothers, who are seeking peaceful change.
Read her thoughts on the potential advantages of this change in tactics in the essay "Changing the Biological Chemistry of Nonviolence Movements: Women on the Front Lines".
A blog by Dr. Hand explores why women are not only the key to ending poverty, they are also key to ending war. Visit the blog at afww.wordpress.com. She is also now on Facebook.
Women of Tahrir Square, Egypt 2011
Estimates are that 25% of the protesters in Tahrir Square were women. The Egyptian revolutionaries remained remarkable peaceful, one of the great strengths of their struggle. "Peaceful!" "Peaceful!" was a cry often heard.
AFWW is of the opinion that the presence of these women might have been an important contributor to keeping the activists nonviolent ... thus strengthening the validity of the protest and also winning the world's admiration.
Reporting by Western mainstream TV Media conveyed the impression that all, or nearly all, the revolutionaries were men. But to be true and to learn something important, history needs to explore and then consider the possible effect women might have had.
If one knows where to look, some insightful information is available. If you are curious, check out the following:
"Egyptian Women Play Vital Role in Anti-Mubarak Protests" Spero News RFE/RA. http://t.co/I2PnwWa
"Revolutionary Women" Beenish Ahmed, The American Prospect http://tinyurl.com/4fenueg
"Photo Story: Women of Egypt." Global Post http://tinyurl.com/4gouryz
"The Unseen Factor: Egypt's Women Protestors." Deutsche Welle http://tinyurl.com/48626l9
Women Nobel Peace Laureates
Our seven living women Nobel Peace Laureates are definitely on the frontlines. Five are pictured here, left to right: Jody Williams, Betty Williams, Shirin Ebadi, Mairead McGuire, and Wangari Maathai. Mary Robinson, former President of Ireland, is another example of powerful women on the march. She is quoted in a Nobel Women's Initiative newsletter as follows: there is "...the need for women to be front and centre in the peace processes...." Women do need to be involved in peace processes. They also need to play a prominent role in nonviolent direct action, to help prevent events from erupting into violence. And when we have abolished war, women will have been full partners with men in leading the way. Read about the 2010 Delegation to Israel and Palestine at www.nobelwomensinitiative.org.
"I think we should commit ourselves to fighting for something that is so big that we will never live to see it because otherwise we're not fighting for something big enough."
Abigail Disney, Producer of documentary film "Pray the Devil Back to Hell." Joan B. Kroc Institute for Peace and Justice, March 2011.
A Good Movie
See "The U.S. vs. John Lennon." John didn't just sing songs. He was an Activist, Visionary, and Revolutionary. So revolutionary that he frightened the U.S. government. Watch and appreciate Lennon's work to lay a foundation for a future without war.
A Good Book
Gene Sharp, Waging Nonviolent Struggle. 20th century practice and 21st century potential.
This book is a vast repository of information about nonviolent struggle, the ultimate "how to."