Women and the Middle East

I don’t think I can say it any better than Lucinda Marshall has, so go have a look-see.

What women are saying about the Violence in the Middle EastBy Lucinda Marshall

September 11, 2006
There has been no shortage of punditry when it comes to the current crisis in the Middle East, however most of the published and broadcast voices have been male. If there is to be any hope of a sustainable peace in this region it is critically important to also listen to what women are saying.

As Professor Cynthia Enloe has pointed out many times, we must 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, real news about women and what they are saying (not to be confused with sensationalized coverage such as the Jon Benet Ramsey ‘story’) 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.

While many women have offered thoughtful and intelligent analyses of what is happening in the Middle East, very few of these voices have made their way on to the Op Ed pages. One of the exceptions is a piece by Nobel Peace Prize winners Shirin Ebadi and Jody Williams that appeared in the International Herald Tribune http://www.iht.com/articles/2006/07/31/opinion/edebadi.php , where the authors write,

“We do not understand how the international community can continue to stand by while entire populations are held hostage in what has been described as “self defense.”

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