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.

Tonight on Women, War and Peace

The War We Are Living:

Vodpod videos no longer available.

Anja Jerkovic

PBS recently aired the first episode from Women, War, and Peace titled “I Came to Testify”, a story about the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia and the 16 women that helped make it happen.

“In one sense, they were victims;
but in another sense they were the strong ones,
they survived”.

On Tuesday, October 11th, PBS released the first episode to their 6-piece segment on Women, War, and Peace. The first of the series, titled: “I came to Testify” tells the story of 16 Bosnian women’s experiences during the Balkan war in 92’ and the tribunal that was created to prosecute war criminals involved in the rape, torture, and murder of thousands of innocent civilians. “I Came to Testify” focuses specifically on the stories of the 16 women who heroically stood on trial for the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia (ICTY), in hopes to bring justice for those affected by the atrocities of the war. The ICTY was the first tribunal of its kind to individually focus on sexual assault, as well as the first war crimes court, an act that has paved the way for future cases on rape during wartime. The tribunal began in 1993, and as you can see from the website linked to the ICTY homepage below, continues on today. So far, 161 criminals have been indicted through ICTY and yet thousands more have gone unreported and unnoticed. The strength of the women in Bosnia to speak about and relive their experiences of sexual enslavement and sexual assault during Bosnia’s horrific war, regardless of the humiliation the criminals sought to harvest in their souls, is expressed beautifully in “I Came to Testify”. While I wish to give individual credit to every woman involved, all chose to keep their identities private and voices changed as to protect their identity from future attacks. The episode itself was heart-wrenching, yet tells a story the world needs to hear- a story that until now, has gone unnoticed.

You can watch the first episode here:

Vodpod videos no longer available.


or click the following link to view all of the episodes at the PBS web site, here.

Click the link below to search the UN’s website for the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia which includes videos, court records, background information, and an ongoing, updated news section on the most recent trials within the ICTY.

International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia (ICTY-TPIY)

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


Carly Toyer

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.

Law and Custom Press Afghan Women’s Shelters


Alissa Rubin
The New York Times
February 10, 2011

After her parents threw her out of the house for refusing to marry a 52-year-old widower with five children, Sabra, 18, boarded a bus that dropped her, afraid and confused, in downtown Kabul. She slept in a mosque for days, barely eating, until a woman took pity on her and put her in touch with human rights workers, who escorted her to a women’s shelter.

To read the full story in the The New York Times, click here.

To read additional stories concerning women in Afghanistan, take a look at the links below:

Why is it Getting Worse for Civilians in Afghanistan?   RAWA News  November 30, 2011

Woman to Woman in Afghanistan The Nation, November 15, 2010