The vast majority of today’s global conflicts are fought by gangs, insurgent groups and warlords using small arms and improvised weapons. “Women, War & Peace” reveals how this post-Cold War proliferation of small arms has changed the landscape of war, with women becoming primary targets and simultaneously emerging as peace brokers. The series spotlights stories in conflict zones from Bosnia to Afghanistan and from Colombia to Liberia, placing women at the center of dialogue about security and modern warfare.
Abigail Disney is executive producer of “Women, War & Peace,” which includes her documentary “Pray the Devil Back to Hell.” It explores the Liberian women’s movement that took on the brutal regime of warlord and dictator Charles Taylor, forced his exile and set the stage for the rise of Africa’s first female head of state, Ellen Johnson Sirleaf. The Nobel Peace Prize 2011 was awarded Oct. 7 to three women, including Sirleaf and her compatriot in peace activism, Leymah Gbowee. Disney, a filmmaker, philanthropist, businesswoman and community activist has supported women’s leadership and rights in diverse international issues and speaks globally on women’s political and economic empowerment. She founded the Daphne Foundation, which makes grants to grassroots organizations working with low-income communities in New York City, and serves on the boards of the White House Project, the Global Fund for Women, and the Fund for the City of New York, as well as on advisory panels for the Association to Benefit Children and the HIV Law Project.
Geena Davis narrates the “Women, War & Peace” series, which dovetails with her interest in women’s issues. She founded the Geena Davis Institute on Gender in Media, which – along with its programming arm, See Jane – is at the forefront of changing gender stereotypes in children’s entertainment and media. Davis also has been a spokesperson for Women & Girls Lead, an innovative public media initiative designed to focus, educate and connect women, girls and their allies around the globe to address the challenges of the 21st century.
Roxanne Varzi, UCI associate professor of anthropology and film & media studies, was born in Iran and moved to the U.S. as a child. Her first documentary, “Plastic Flowers Never Die,” was shot entirely in Iran, screened at the Boston Film Festival and picked up for distribution by Documentary Educational Resources. Varzi wrote, edited and selected music for the film, which deals with the aftermath of the Iran-Iraq War, an eight-year conflict that killed more than a million people. She also is the author of Warring Souls, an eloquent account of the beliefs and experiences of young, middle-class, urban Iranians.
Kelly Thornton Smith, a Newport Beach philanthropist, founded Orange County’s Center for Living Peace on the belief that “good happens.” It’s a place where children, families and adults of all ages can connect to their spirit, others and the world in order to make a difference.