Women, War and Peace

Article Date

26 May 2011

Media Contact

Anne McPherson

Vice President, Global Communications email [email protected]

There is a general perception that women could not possibly have anything to do with war, and therefore they really have nothing to do with peace. Nothing could be further from the truth, and the longer we proceed under this misapprehension, the longer we will go on failing to solve the fundamental problems that bring conflict to so many places around the world.

Women have always been a part of war. After all, if Attila the Hun could “rape and pillage” his way through Europe, surely there were some women in the combat zones of yesterday. But, in modern warfare, women have emerged into greater prominence than ever before. This is because there is more likely a chance that a civilian is targeted than the two opposing forces coming into direct conflict on anything resembling a formal battlefield. In the brutal civil wars since the 1990s in places as diverse as Peru and Colombia, Sri Lanka and Nepal, the Philippines and Myanmar, to DRC, Liberia and Rwanda, all pretense that civilians and noncombatants are to be only accidentally brought into the fray has been dropped.

And when we say “civilians,” it is crucial to remember that we mean women. Anywhere from 60 to 90 percent of civilians and refugees are women and children in modern wartime. The term “women and children” tends to suggest that women, like children, need special care and attention, but the opposite is true. Rather, it is the elders, disabled, sick and young that rely on a woman to survive.

Looked at this way, women become more central to any discussion of the causes and consequences of war and battle than ever before. This is why I have spent the last three years working to raise money for and then produce, along with stellar partners, films on the role women play in wartime and the role they have yet to play – and really should play – in bringing peace to communities in conflict. Ignoring this fact is very much to the detriment of one and all in these modern times.

Disney will participate in ICRW’s Passports to Progress event on June 13 to discuss the challenges to and opportunities for ending violence against women in all its forms.


Women War & Peace

Photo credit Robin Holland