“I Have to Speak” – Voices of Female Ex-Combatants from Aceh, Burundi, Mindanao and Nepal: Online film premiere and panel discussion


In the midst of these demanding but also potentially transformative times, we are happy to invite you to our first-ever online event! Together with 3 panellists, we will watch and discuss the film and booklet presenting the results of our recent work with female ex-combatants.

Online film premiere and panel discussion

“I Have to Speak” – Voices of Female Ex-Combatants from Aceh, Burundi, Mindanao and Nepal

on 27 May at 11am-12.30pm CEST with 

Shadia Marhaban

International mediator and peacebuilding practitioner from Aceh and former member of the Free Aceh Movement (GAM) peace negotiation team in Helsinki

Nicola Popovic (tbc)
Director and Co-Founder of Gender Associations, Berlin

Evelyn Pauls
Impact Manager, Centre for Women, Peace and Security, London School of Economics, previously researcher with Berghof Foundation

moderated by Beatrix Austin, Head of Department, Conflict Transformation Research, Berghof Foundation, Berlin

With video messages from, among others,

Grace Nitunga,

Burundi, working on the economic and psychosocial reintegration of women ex-combatants and

Lila Sharma,

Nepal, head of the Former People’s Liberation Army Women Academy, former Battalion Commander.

Register here

The film and accompanying booklet seek to amplify some of the hidden and forgotten voices in conflict: Those of women who were members of non-state armed groups.

In our project, six female ex-combatants from Aceh (Indonesia), Burundi, Mindanao (Philippines) and Nepal collected and filmed stories of their peers. They reflect on their reasons for joining the movements, their time as women in war, and how their lives unfolded once peace was restored. Theirs are stories of friendship and camaraderie, of life and death, of perseverance and resistance, and of rebuilding lives after war and continuing the struggle in peaceful ways.

They produced a booklet and a film that tell the stories of women in and after war through the eyes of female combatants themselves. They choose their own words and create their own narratives. This gives a more truthful account of the actual experiences of women in conflict. It also helps the audience to imagine alternative roles for women in post-conflict society.

Together with our partners, we explored the various and complex narratives of women both during and after conflict. Find out more about this participatory research project here.

Making their voices heard and taking seriously the first-hand knowledge on the various challenges, opportunities and lessons learnt of women who were members of non-state armed groups, is a first crucial step in building sustainable peace.

We look forward to enjoying and discussing the film and booklet with you!