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Mar 08 2014

Born of necessity

Leymah Gbowee says in Al Jazeera “Let’s celebrate International Women’s Day by remembering women around the world working towards peace.”

I am an optimist; there is beauty despite the ugliness. The bravery and strength of our mothers, daughters and sisters give me hope. Even when they are the ones that have been raped, abused and battered, they take part in the process of rehabilitation and resolution – from a neighbourhood conflict to an outright war. I am in awe of the ability of women to keep communities and families together even in the midst of wars and crises.

I have just returned from the Democratic Republic of the Congo where I travelled with the Nobel Women’s Initiative delegation. War and violence have ravaged the nation, especially the women. We listened to stories that would keep you up at night. For too many of the women, each story started with “I was raped; I was in pain; I was upset and distraught…” But in the middle of their narrative, the beautiful is revealed: “…and then the women came; my sister came; my mother came; a women’s association heard and came…. They took me to a doctor; helped me with clothes; talked to me and then I regained strength… and now I am able to at least think about living again.”

The beautiful line is how women, despite the ugliness of violence, have an unshakeable sense of sisterhood and solidarity. Regardless of what the world calls DRC, I call it the “Capital of Sisterhood and Solidarity”. Their enduring hope compels every one of us to fight for peace.

Maybe with peace there will be less solidarity, because less need for solidarity. It would be worth it.

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