April 23, 2024

An international feminist perspective on the conflict: ALLMEP-affiliated women peacebuilders speak at the International Journalism Festival

On April 18, 2024, two peacebuilders from our community appeared on a panel at the International Journalism Festival. Nivine Sandouka, ALLMEP’s Regional Director, and Yael Braudo-Bahat, Co-Director of ALLMEP member Women Wage Peace, joined panel host and founder of The 51 Percent, Annette Young, and journalist Mélina Huet for a discussion entitled “A decade of The 51 Percent: covering conflict through a gender lens.” 

The panel took place on the second day of the four-day convening in Italy, where scores of journalists, activists, and interested stakeholders  came together for the largest annual media event in Europe. The event covered a wide range of topics, including the ongoing war and media coverage.

The purpose of this panel, which featured Yael and Nivine discussing the coverage of women during the Israel-Gaza War and Mélina sharing her experiences covering the war in Ukraine, was to discuss how the media can ensure that women’s voices are heard in a media landscape that often falls short of offering an international feminist perspective. 

The importance of women as leaders – as opposed to being represented only as victims or survivors – emerged as a theme across the panel. Nivine emphasized that “It’s like we look at women or we cover women as only being the victims or survivors, but not really leaders. And … I think we need to highlight more the women who are in leadership positions, whether they are in …official government, or whether they are in civil society.” 

Yael added, “yes, we need to bring more women around to negotiate. And there are many women who can do that. And the talks will be a more inclusive, more productive, the agreement will be reached a faster like what happened in Northern Ireland, like what happened in Colombia, in other regions and conflicts that were resolved over history.”

Another theme that emerged was the importance of a nuanced vision for viewing the conflict, what Nivine identified as a Third Narrative, an alternative to the binary choice to which, she said, people falsely believe they are restricted. 

On the topic of narratives that involve the perspectives of women on both sides of the conflict, Yael shared how Women Wage Peace works with its sister organization, Women of the Sun, composed of Palestinian women. She emphasized that in the two organizations’ work, they do not shy away from the raw emotions that are inherent in their peacebuilding work. “The anger and the agony need to be acknowledged, we cannot overcome them, we cannot overlook them in they need to be acknowledged. And in our partnership with Women of the Sun. …two days after October 7, we had a Zoom meeting, we just cried together. This is what we did. And I believe that if we bring together Israelis and Palestinians, and acknowledge both sides’ pain and agony and anger, then we can begin talking.” At the end of the event, members of the audience were encouraged to discuss their questions with the panelists directly.

Speaking at a critical point six months into the war, the panelists offered an international feminist perspective on women’s roles in conflict as well as the narratives surrounding them. 

Watch the full panel here: https://www.journalismfestival.com/programme/2024/a-decade-of-the-51-percent-covering-conflict-through-a-gender-lens

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