A More Peaceful World if Women Were in Charge?

Joseph Nye
CNN Global Public Square
February 8, 2012

Would the world be more peaceful if women were in charge? A challenging new book by the Harvard University psychologist Steven Pinker says that the answer is “yes.”

In The Better Angels of Our Nature, Pinker presents data showing that human violence, while still very much with us today, has been gradually declining. Moreover, he says, “over the long sweep of history, women have been and will be a pacifying force. Traditional war is a man’s game: tribal women never band together to raid neighboring villages.” As mothers, women have evolutionary incentives to maintain peaceful conditions in which to nurture their offspring and ensure that their genes survive into the next generation.

Skeptics immediately reply that women have not made war simply because they have rarely been in power. If they were empowered as leaders, the conditions of an anarchic world would force them to make the same bellicose decisions that men do. Margaret Thatcher, Golda Meir, and Indira Gandhi were powerful women; all of them led their countries to war.

But it is also true that these women rose to leadership by playing according to the political rules of “a man’s world.” It was their success in conforming to male values that enabled their rise to leadership in the first place. In a world in which women held a proportionate share (one-half) of leadership positions, they might behave differently in power.

To read the full article at CNN.com, click here.

A Viewer’s Introductory Guide to Abigail Disney,
Producer of PBS’s Women, War, and Peace

 

Carly Toyer
usmvaw.com

Women, War, and Peace is a five-part documentary series to be featured on PBS, airing Tuesday nights at 11pm. The series will feature hour-long segments focusing on:

  1. Women who testified against rapist soldiers who used rape as a weapon in the 1990s war in Bosnia in I Came to Testify. October 11.
  2. Liberian women who protested and won peace during a civil war in 2003 in Pray the Devil Back to Hell. October 18.
  3. Three women in Afghanistan who organized to maintain women’s rights during peace talks with the Taliban in 2009 in Peace Unveiled. October 25.
  4. The effects of Colombia’s 40-year-old civil war on current day rural Colombia, and the women who live there in The War We Are Living. November 1.
  5. The idea that the domain of was and peace belongs to men, and extensive interviews with female figureheads, survivors, and peacemakers in War Redefined. November 8. (http://www.pbs.org/wnet/women-war-and-peace. 2011).

Women, War, and Peace will air publicly, with re-runs throughout each week and free online streaming at http://video.pbs.org

This guide will introduce you to filmmaker and Women, War, and Peace’s prominent producer Abigail Disney’s background and previous works, and provide examples of important screenings of Women, War, and Peace.

About Abigail Disney

Abigail Disney is the daughter of Roy E. Disney of the Walt Disney Company. She earned her BA from Yale, her Masters in English Literature from Stanford, and a PhD in Philosophy from Columbia. (http://www.forbes.com/2010/08/19/abigail-disney-women-war-forbes-woman-power-women-documentary-film.html )  As a filmmaker, she has focused on female activists and peacemakers, most notably in her film Pray the Devil Back to Hell, (to be featured as part of two in Women, War and Peace) which won best documentary at the 2008 Tribeca Film Festival. (http://www.tribecafilm.com/home/18455719.html)

Abigail Disney’s Activist Affiliations

The Daphne Foundation: “The Daphne Foundation funds programs that confront the causes and consequences of poverty in the five boroughs of New York City and in Western Africa. We have a particular interest in grassroots and emerging organizations engaging their members in the creation and implementation of long-term solutions to intractable social problems.” (http://www.daphnefoundation.org/mission-philosophy.htm)

The Global Fund for Women:  “We advocate for and defend women’s human rights by making grants to support women’s groups in five regions: Sub-Saharan Africa, Middle East and North Africa, Europe and the Commonwealth of Independent States, Asia and Oceania and the Americas. Since its inception in 1987, the Global Fund has granted over $93 million to more than 4,400 women’s groups in 172 countries.” (http://www.globalfundforwomen.org/what-we-do)

Women and Girls Lead: “Women and Girls Lead is a multiyear public media initiative to focus, educate, and connect citizens worldwide in support of the issues facing women and girls. Combining independent documentary film, television, new media, and global outreach partnerships, Women and Girls Lead amplifies the voices of women and girls acting as leaders, expands understanding of gender equity, and engages an international network of citizens and organizations to act locally and reach out globally.” (http://www.itvs.org/women-and-girls-lead/about)

Abigail Disney’s Previous Films

Sun Come Up (producer, 2011): “…an Academy Award nominated film that shows the human face of climate change. The film follows the relocation of the Carteret Islanders, a community living on a remote island chain in the South Pacific Ocean, and now, some of the world’s first environmental refugees.” (http://www.suncomeup.com/film/Home.html)

Family Affair (producer, 2010): “… an uncompromising documentary by Chico Colvard, which explores the complexities of a family subjected to enormous trauma, the depths of suffering a parent can inflict on his own children and yet also the remarkable resiliency that some people can muster even in the face of all this. The film is a meditation on forgiveness, on grace, and on the capacity of the human spirit to find love and meaning under the worst of circumstances.” (http://www.forkfilms.net/watchnow.php)

Playground (producer, 2009): “Sexual exploitation of children is a problem that we tend to relegate to back-alley brothels in developing countries, the province of a particularly inhuman, and invariably foreign, criminal element. Such is the initial premise of Libby Spears’ sensitive investigation into the topic. But she quickly concludes that very little thrives on this planet without American capital, and the commercial child sex industry is certainly thriving. Spears intelligently traces the epidemic to its disparate, and decidedly domestic, roots—among them the way children are educated about sex, and the problem of raising awareness about a crime that inherently cannot be shown. Her cultural observations are couched in an ongoing mystery story: the search for Michelle, an American girl lost to the underbelly of childhood sexual exploitation who has yet to resurface a decade later.” (http://www.playgroundproject.com/film/.)

Pray the Devil Back to Hell (producer, 2008): “Pray the Devil Back to Hell chronicles the remarkable story of the courageous Liberian women who came together to end a bloody civil war and bring peace to their shattered country. Thousands of women — ordinary mothers, grandmothers, aunts and daughters, both Christian and Muslim — came together to pray for peace and then staged a silent protest outside of the Presidential Palace. Armed only with white T-shirts and the courage of their convictions, they demanded a resolution to the country’s civil war. Their actions were a critical element in bringing about a agreement during the stalled peace talks.

A story of sacrifice, unity and transcendence, Pray the Devil Back to Hell honors the strength and perseverance of the women of Liberia. Inspiring, uplifting, and most of all motivating, it is a compelling testimony of how grassroots activism can alter the history of nations.” (http://www.praythedevilbacktohell.com/synopsis.php)

Screenings of Women, War, and Peace

Universities, community centers, and churches nationwide are holding screenings and discussions on Women, War, and Peace. To learn more about the impact that will be made by these screenings, browse through the following articles:

“Bosnian St. Louisans join discussion as PBS explores Women, War & Peace

“Enlightening Student Viewers”

“Women and Girls Lead in Community Screenings and on PBS”

To attend a screening near you, visit http://www.pbs.org/wnet/women-war-and-peace/screenings.

MARCH 5 TO 22
THEATER FOR THE NEW CITY – NEW YORK CITY, NEW YORK
“THE LONELY SOLDIER MONOLOGUES (WOMEN AT WAR IN IRAQ)”

COMPLETE INFO AVAILABLE AT http://www.lonelysoldierplay.com

William Electric Black will direct “The Lonely Soldier Monologues (Women at War In Iraq)” by Helen Benedict, author of “The Lonely Soldier: The Private War of Women Serving in Iraq” (Beacon Press, April 2009). It contains monologues of seven soldiers which were gathered through interviews and correspondence for the book.

Ms. Benedict’s book is an intimate, unflinching, and sometimes disturbing portrait of women in today’s military. Audiences will have the thrilling experience of being face-to-face with the characters, adding the immediacy of theater to what is already a rich literary experience.

The actors are Allison Troesch, Athena Colon, Cara Liander, Julia A. Grob, Kim Weston-Moran, Macah Coates and Verna Hampton. Set and lighting design are by Federico Restrepo. Costume design is by Tilly Grimes. Production Coordinator/Manager is Chriz Zaborowski. Sound Design/Drums are by Jim Mussen. Choreography is by Jeremy Lardieri.