A War of Women: Al Jazeera’s Lebanon’s Women Warriors

Al Jazeera recently aired a piece titled Lebanon’s Women Warriors, which features the testimonies and stories of eight women who fought against occupying forces from 1975-1990 in Lebanon.

The film offers a unique perspective: it shows the role women played in the war, the unconventional weapons they used, and ways they fought. Perhaps the most striking thing about the piece is that it shows the relationship between women and violence in a way that is not typically expressed.

Wafa'a Nasrallah and her daughters. Image from Al Jazeera.

This period was marked by civil war within Lebanon with the Southern region being polarized by the influx of Palestinian refugees and the presence of the PLO, followed by the presence of Israeli forces. In addition to the presence foreign forces, there was fighting among Christian, Shi’a Muslim, and Sunni Muslim militias, and even between these militias and social, nationalist and communist movements. Needless to say, alliances shifted erratically.

The women in the documentary were mobilized by various causes. They differed in their religious backgrounds: some are Christian, others are Muslim, and a few seem to be irreligious, choosing to align themselves with communist and nationalist socio-political movements instead. The one thing they had in common, however, was that they fought at the front lines alongside other women and men.

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