For more information about Jacksonville's Women, War & Peace series, listen to First Coast Connect, Mondays at 9:30am on 89.9FM.
Mai was born in Vietnam in 1965. She remembers hearing bombings from her school playground and being whisked away into bunkers in the middle of the night. Mai escaped Vietnam with some of her siblings in 1981 after the war's end, and spent the next year in 3 different refugee camps before coming to America as a 17 year old. Now she's an art teacher at Paxon High School and her career choice has a lot to do with the fact that when she moved to this country, she says her teachers were her heroes.
The country of Burma—also known as Myanmar— has been embroiled in a complex civil war for more than sixty years. Catholic nuns from Burma come to Jacksonville through the Diocese of St. Augustine and St. Vincent's learn pastoral care services to take back home. Producer Amanda Whorton spoke with Sister Rosemary Bawk, who didn't want to talk about what's going on politically in her country and instead discussed the role she believes woman play in brokering peace.
Rachel Obal is a caseworker for Catholic Charities Refugee program. She was herself a refugee, from the farming village of Akobo in Southern Sudan. She came to the United States with her seven children in 1999 and has earned the nickname "Mama Rachel" because of her care and support for other refugees. A warning that the descriptions of war in this piece may be upsetting to some listeners.
Emina (she didn't want to share her last name) is now an established Jacksonville resident, but she came to this country as a refugee from Bosnia. She shared with us how her life was changed by the Balkan Wars of the 1990s. The war came to her town in 1992 when she was a 21-year-old college student living at home with her parents.
WJCT's Melissa Ross interviews Women, War & Peace Executive Producer Abigail Disney on First Coast Connect about how the documentary came together, some of the challenges she and her colleagues faced, and the first episode airing on PBS, I Came to Testify.
When the Balkans exploded into war in the 1990s, reports that tens of thousands of women were being systematically raped as a tactic of ethnic cleansing captured the international spotlight. "I Came to Testify" is the story of how a group of 16 women who had been imprisoned by Serb-led forces in the Bosnian town of Foca broke history's great silence -- and stepped forward to take the witness stand in an international court of law. Now, as Bosnia is once again in the headlines with the capture of Bosnian Serb wartime general Ratko Mladic, the women agree to speak for the first time since then, on condition that we keep their identities hidden for their protection. "Witness 99," who was held at gunpoint for a month with dozens of other women in a sports hall in the center of town remembers: "We were treated like animals. But that was the goal: to kill a woman's dignity." Their remarkable courage resulted in a triumphant verdict that led to new international laws about sexual violence in war. Returning to Bosnia 16 years after the end of the conflict, the film also explores the chasm between this seismic legal shift and the post-war justice experienced by most of Bosnia's women war survivors. Narrated by Matt Damon.
"Pray the Devil Back to Hell" is the story of the Liberian women who took on the warlords and regime of dictator Charles Taylor in the midst of a brutal civil war, and won a once unimaginable peace for their shattered country in 2003. As the rebel noose tightened around the capital city of Monrovia, thousands of women -- ordinary mothers, grandmothers, aunts and daughters, both Christian and Muslim -- formed a thin but unshakeable line between the opposing forces. Armed only with white t-shirts and the courage of their convictions, they literally faced down the killers who had turned Liberia into hell on earth. In one memorable scene, the women barricaded the site of stalled peace talks in Ghana and refused to move until a deal was done. Their demonstrations culminated in Taylor's exile and the rise of Africa's first female head of state, Ellen Johnson Sirleaf. This film is an example of how grassroots activism can alter the history of nations.
When the U.S. troop surge was announced in late 2009, women in Afghanistan knew that the ground was being laid for peace talks with the Taliban. "Peace Unveiled" follows three women who immediately began to organize to make sure that women's rights don't get traded away in the deal. One is a savvy parliamentarian who participated in writing the Afghan constitution that guarantees equality for women; another, a former midwife who is one of the last women's rights advocates alive in Kandahar; and the third, a young activist who lives in a traditional family in Kabul. Convinced that the Taliban will have demands that jeopardize women's hard-earned gains, they maneuver against formidable odds to have their voices heard in a peace jirga and high peace council. The film goes behind Kabul's closed doors as the women's case is made to U.S. Ambassador Karl Eikenberry, U.S. Ambassador-at-Large for Global Women's Issues Melanne Verveer, General David Petraeus and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, who promises the women that "peace and justice can't come at the cost of women and women's lives." But will this promise be kept? Narrated by Tilda Swinton.
If you ask Colombia's city-dwellers and governing political class, they'll tell you the country's 40-year-old civil war is over. But "The War We Are Living" reveals the "other" Colombia, in rural areas far away from the capitol, where the war is all too real -- and now the battle is over gold. In Cauca, a mountainous region in Colombia's pacific southwest, two extraordinary Afro-Colombian women are fighting to hold onto the gold-rich land that has sustained their community through small-scale mining for centuries. Clemencia Carabali and Francia Marquez are part of a powerful network of female leaders, who found that in wartime women can organize more freely than men. As they defy paramilitary death threats and insist on staying on their land, Carabali and Marquez are standing up for a generation of Colombians who have been terrorized and forcibly displaced as a deliberate strategy of war. If they lose the battle, they and thousands of their neighbors will join Colombia's four million people -- most of them women and children -- who have been uprooted from their homes and livelihoods. Narrated by Alfre Woodard.
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Juggling work and motherhood is always hard, but imagine if you were an admiral in the Navy. Rear Admiral Wendi Carpenter raised a family while also being among the first women in the Navy to become a pilot, and then the first Navy pilot to be promoted to admiral.
As reports of Qaddafi soldiers raping women emerge from Libya, we talk to feminist Gloria Steinem about the root causes of sexual violence against women in times of conflict.
When Congolese journalist Chouchou Namegabe first started reporting on sexual abuse in her country, the language didn't even have a word for "rape."
Sharmeen Obaid-Chinoy is an award-winning film producer and journalist based in Pakistan, where she was born and raised. Her acclaimed film, Children of the Taliban, takes viewers to areas of the country off-limits to outsiders, to show how the Taliban specifically targets boys and girls for different ends.
Annabelle Abaya wasn't above baking for peace as the Philippines' Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process and founder of The Conflict Resolution Group Foundation. Get an inside look at how peace negotiations work and learn why Abaya thinks women make good mediators.
Through the African Union's Peace and Security Department, activist Stella Sabiiti works with rebels who inflict violence on civilians in conflict zones like Darfur and Somalia. Sabiiti reveals how her own experience as a victim of torture in Uganda has been vital to her understanding of the minds of perpetrators.
Why do women join armed groups or become suicide bombers? Tufts Professor Dyan Mazurana talks to us about how a cycle of violence is much more to blame for women's participation in terrorist groups than poverty or ideology.
Are all little boys meant to be warriors? Are little girls programmed to stay out of the fray? Professor Joshua Goldstein, author of War and Gender, talks about whether or not our gender determines our roles in war.
After interviewing survivors of Congo's civil war in 2004, playwrite Lynn Nottage was inspired to write Ruined, which earned her a Pulitzer Prize. Mixing "passion, purpose and art," Nottage hopes the play impacts people long after curtain-down.
Documentary filmmaker Julia Bacha takes us to the Middle East to explore the conflict between Israelis and Palestinians. She talks about her new film, Budrus, which features a Palestinian village that protested Israeli forces through creative, non-violent means.
For our first podcast episode, we go to the Democratic Republic of Congo, a region that has been called the "rape capital of the world." Jocelyn Kelly and Dr. Julie VanRooyen, both of the Harvard Humanitarian Initiative, have spoken extensively with rape victims and perpetrators in the region and share their findings.
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