Thursday, September 22, 2011

Are Women Better at Peace? by R.M. Schneiderman

As CGI continues, Leymah Gbowee tells a striking story about women as peace makers.
The empowerment of women: It’s a concept we often think of in moral terms. Yet in an afternoon session at the Clinton Global Initiative today, Leymah Gbowee, the executive director of the Women Peace and Security Network-Africa, told a story that speaks to the importance of empowering women as a social good.
In Liberia, in December of 2003, a brief ceasefire occurs in an otherwise brutal civil war. The United Nations plans to symbolically disarm 300 fighters. But more than 2,000 fighters show up, and the U.N. can’t control the crowd.
Gbowee and others set out to calm the men, to provide them with aid. One day, a woman came to her office in tears. She had been at one of the relief camps, where a young boy whom she was giving food looked up and asked for her daughter.
“My daughter is dead,” the woman said.
And the boy responded: “I know.”
“How do you know?” the woman said.
“Because I killed her.”
Sitting in her office, Gbowee was shocked.
“Did you stop feeding him?” Gbowee asked the woman.
And the woman said no.
“This is what peace building is,” Gbowee said. “To stare at the killer of your child in the eye and continue to show him that kind of compassion. And I’m sorry men … from all my readings I’ve only seen it with Jesus.”
The moderator of the panel, former U.S. Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, echoed this sentiment: “If women are economically and politically empowered … it makes for more stable societies. When I was in office, I went to Burundi and we got women of different ethnic groups to talk to each other when men couldn’t.”
In a world where women comprise more than 50 percent of the population, and many continue to lack the same basic rights and opportunities as men, that’s reason enough to make their rights a priority.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Flash Points: Edit Schlaffer presents SAVE on CBS