Lucinda Marshall: Women Speaking Out about the Violence in the Middle East Print E-mail

  WMIN's Voices Wednesday August 23 2006

By Lucinda Marshall

As Cynthia Enloe has pointed out many times, it is very important to ask how armed conflict and militarism affects women. How are their lives impacted, what are their needs, and what are their thoughts. Unfortunately, every time anyone fires a rocket or a gun, news about women and what they are saying is almost completely blacked out. We get a few pictures of anguished women holding dead children and husbands, but mostly we see pictures of tanks, mobs of men and the voices of generals and politicians, with only a token woman or 2 thrown in to ‘balance’ the picture.

Since the Israeli invasion of Lebanon, I have been monitoring statements by women regarding the current conflict in the Middle East. What follows are links to some of the available material. Please disseminate this widely, it is very important that these voices be heard.
“A Collective Failure in the Middle East” by Nobel Prize winners Shirin Ebadi and Jody Williams.
“Approaching a Ceasefire” by Kathy Kelly, co-ordinator of Voices for Creative Non-Violence. Common Dreams has run several other pieces by Kelly, so you might want to check their website as well.
“Why Doesn’t Israel Work For Peace? Holocaust victims would decry the slaughter of innocent children during attacks on Hezbollah” by author and Holocaust survivor Silvia Tennenbaum.

Indian Journalist Ammu Joseph has written an excellent piece on news coverage of the conflict that highlights the extent to which the media ignores voices of peace, especially when those voices belong to women, “The Media, War and Peace”.

Also, there are several wonderful blogs being published by women in Lebanon:
Hopeful Beirut
Beirut Update
Life or Something Like It

Finally, numerous women’s organizations have made statements about the conflict, but these are circulating primarily by listserv, and therefore are not being widely read.

The Canadian Voice of Women for Peace offers these thoughts,

“Where parties will not talk directly together, we urge on-going shuttle diplomacy ” Track 1 or 11 or both ” where a small number of men and women, governmental or non-governmental, familiar with the nuances of the conflict could be selected to carry demands and responses back & forth. We warn of a failure to consider this: In WW1 this shuttle diplomacy was done exhaustively and exclusively by non-governmental women led by Canadian Julia Grace Wales. All heads of state visited thought it a fine process but in the end dismissed it in favour of letting the war “run its course. The lesson should be very clear. “Run its course” meant MILLIONS of deaths, unfathomable costs, and ensured the cycle of revenge.”

And the Australian Section of the Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom (WILPF) points out that,

“A just solution is possible to the conflicts between the Israeli, the Lebanese and Palestinian peoples but can only come when the peoples’ representatives come to the negotiating table with a commitment to achieving a good life for all the peoples involved, not for one people seeking profit, privilege and advantage at the expense of the other. Only in this way can nation states finally emerge that truly respect each other.”

And further,
“…if past injustices are accepted as sufficient reason to oppress and kill others, then there never can be an end to war and oppression.”

Please pass these missives along and help make sure that the wise and thoughtful voices of women are being heard. It is important to note that women in Lebanon and Gaza are in urgent need of humanitarian aid. Donations to specifically help women in these war-torn areas can be made by visiting Madre. The Global Fund for Women also has links to organizations working in these areas and the Coalition of Women for Peace in Israel is also in need of contributions to carry on their urgent efforts to end the violence.

This entry was posted on Wednesday, August 23rd, 2006 at 7:29 am and is filed under Uncategorized, Arms & Conflict, The Blogosphere, Human Rights & Civil Liberties, International Media, Violence Against Women, War.