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The meaning of the F-word: Becoming agents of change

Julie Tomlin, writer

If there's one thing the Arab spring taught us, it is that the media's depiction of Arab women as passive, veiled victims was way off the mark. It showed that the image we are fed of women as passive objects is an inaccurate one – and that applies elsewhere, too. Did you know that women in Liberia played a major role in securing peace after years of conflict or that, on International Women's Day last year, more than 100 women risked marching in Kabul to demand that they be able to take part in peace negotiations with the Taliban?

This year, women in Afghanistan, the Democratic Republic of Congo and Iraq will be standing on bridges to demand that women living in conflict zones be represented in peace talks. Be it in Afghanistan, Egypt or countries across Europe, where women, many British ones among them, will be bearing the brunt of the economic crisis, women have a role to play in creating the solutions. I suggest we champion women's capacity as agents of change against whatever life-destroying forces they are facing.

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This article first appeared in the 12 March 2012 issue of the New Statesman, The weaker sex