I Have To Speak

Voices of Female Ex-Combatants from Aceh, Burundi, Mindanao and Nepal

This short film and booklet seek to amplify some of the hidden and forgotten voices in conflict. These stories of female ex-combatants from diverse political, religious, ethnic and national backgrounds show that women and their experiences of armed conflict have to be taken seriously for building sustainable peace.

These are their stories as they tell them to each other. Six ex-combatant women collected the stories, reflecting as they did so 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.

Download the booklet:
EN - English | FR - Français | ID - Bahasa Indonesia | NE - नेपाली भाषा | EN - Mindanao edition.

Background on the project

The stories are the result of a participatory research project, which collected first-hand knowledge on female ex-combatants’ actual experiences during and after armed conflict. It analysed the various challenges, opportunities and lessons learned by women who were members of non-state armed groups that signed peace agreements and demobilised 10-20 years ago.

Given this timescale, female combatants’ narratives will not be the same today as they were immediately after the conflict. They are influenced, mitigated and consolidated as the women’s lives unfold, in response to the peace and reintegration process, international engagement and the evolving political situation.

Six local researchers from five demobilised armed groups in Aceh (Indonesia), Mindanao (Philippines), Nepal and Burundi played an active part in the research and documentation process. 43 women shared their stories with the researchers and all of them are included in the booklet.

Ongoing work with women in resistance and liberation movements

In addition to this project, we are also working to bridge the gap in women’s representation in peace processes by creating a peer-learning network for women in resistance and liberation movements (RLMs). Find out more about our ongoing work with women in RLMs here.