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Women, War & Peace: Power Breakfast for PBS Premiere

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Just a few blocks from the UN with police lining Lexington Avenue preparing for President Obama's visit, the Four Seasons Restaurant was the site of a power summit on world peace. A new WNET 5-part series focused on the critical role of women worldwide in war-stricken regions is to air on 5 consecutive Tuesdays starting October 11 on PBS, and the mood was fierce to say, without women at the table, there will be no peace.

Filmmakers Gini Reticker and Abigail Disney, collaborators on the 2008 documentary Pray the Devil Back to Hell, created the series with Pamela Hogan. Pray the Devil features Leymah Gbowee, a charismatic social worker turned activist. This compelling story about how women banded together to protest violence in Liberia, set their hideous dictator Charles Taylor on a journey of exile, to be put on trial for war crimes, and enabled a democratically elected woman to govern their country. Self-assured and instinctively political, Gbowee is a modern day Lysistrata, as in the ancient Greek satirist Aristophanes' play, a character who organized women in a sex strike to protest the Peloponnesian War.

The film is one of five to be shown, showing how women are changing the rules of engagement in conflict zones in Bosnia, Colombia, Liberia and Afghanistan.

Addressing the large audience that included Gloria Steinem, Maria Bello and Jane Rosenthal, Leymah Gbowee removed the colorful scarf wound around her head and wrapped it tight around her waist to show how women deal with hunger. Telling story after intense anecdote of women in war, raped with their sons forced to participate, who then continue their lives as mothers, she asked, is this how victims behave? No. These are actions of survivors, fighters.

M.C. Lynn Sherr brought a woman president to the stage. Of course we have never had a woman president except through the magic of television. Geena Davis, erstwhile star of the show, Commander in Chief, spoke about her work as an activist in raising the image of women in film from eye candy or cartoon scantily clad stick figures to complex and nuanced people. Davis narrates the program, War Redefined.

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