October 17, 2007
Female peacekeepers

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When I heard about the decision to send an entirely female peacekeeping unit to Liberia, my first reaction was -- why didn’t anyone think of that before? It’s obviously a good idea.

For so many years the woman of Liberia had paid a very high price for the cruel civil wars of this country, and this might be a very important step in the right direction, why not let the woman take the lead in a country where 73 percent of all women have been raped.

For me, as a director of documentary films, it was also obvious that it would be interesting to do a film about the world's first female U.N. peacekeeping unit.

Millions of people have met or seen television footage of soldiers at war, almost all of them, men. The image of men killing each other in ugly wars comes very easy, but the picture of a female soldier doesn’t readily appear when we think of war.

Can women fight a war at all? And will they be better at making peace than men? They are for me two very interesting questions. For many years we have discussed if women are better leaders than men, and here was the chance to make a debate of an equivalent topic, are women better to make peace than men?

I went to Liberia this spring -- a fragile and war torn country. At peace, yes, but where tensions were lurking under the surface. The scars of war are everywhere.

Everyone I met told me the most horrible stories of what happened during the 13 years of civil war. Very little is working, and the people are desperately poor. Walking around the capital Monrovia, would very quickly leave you sad, but for me that picture changed when I met the women that are trying to change it.

It was fantastic to meet the Indian contingent commander, the Liberian female police students and not least of all the chief of police, Beatrice Mona Sieh. They were all so dedicated to their task, and worked with such an enthusiasm, professionalism with a female touch, and confidence that convinced me this will work out, even though it's going to take a long time.

The question of whether women are better to make peace than men is probably not one to be answered yet, but I doubt that this will be the last time we see an entirely female peace keeping unit.

-- From Søren Bendixen, Foreign Affairs Correspondent, Danish Broadcasting Corporation.
World’s Untold Stories showcases courageous correspondents telling intimate stories of society's most vulnerable people. Often gritty, always powerful tales that open our eyes to a world that is at times disturbing and captivating. Storytelling that is raw and unyielding in its impact. World’s Untold Stories will bring the viewer tales from all corners of the world, and shine light on activities almost never exposed.

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