Where are the women at the table?

I sit in a wine bar. A solitary 60 something woman alone. The girl friend I was to have met had an emergency. I didn’t get her message until after I sat down and ordered a glass of Pinot Noir.

It’s from Bulgaria. The mention of its country of origin in Eastern Europe immediately takes me to ‘the war’. Ukraine under fire.

But then everything seems to take me to ‘the war’.

I notice the single quotation marks I use to encircle ‘the war’ and wonder why I cannot reference the two three letter words without them. As if they somehow separate the reality of what is happening from my life.

Six letters in total and I cannot come to grasp with the totality of what they represent. Death. Destruction. Despair.

Loss of life. The tearing apart of our humanity. The constant fear of wondering, “How much worse can it get?”

Much worse, if I am to believe the newsfeeds I scroll in an endless search for ‘the end’ as if I am expecting to suddenly awaken to a miracle. It was all a bad dream.

But that wish in and of itself minimizes the pain and suffering of those living the horrendous reality of this war.

Negotiated settlement talks resume and I wonder where are the women at the table? The mothers whose sons are sent to war to die at the firing of a stranger’s gun, a distant unseen missile, a lumbering tank.

Where are the women?

Those who carry life and bring it into this world only to witness its demise at the front of a war they did not ask for, did not want, do not condone.

Where are the women?

Those who teach their sons and daughters the sanctity of all life. The beauty of all souls.

Where are the women?

According to the Council on Foreign Relations

Women’s participation in conflict prevention and resolution can improve outcomes before, during, and after conflict. But women are often excluded from formal peace processes.

Between 1992 and 2019, women constituted, on average, 13 percent of negotiators, 6 percent of mediators, and 6 percent of signatories in major peace processes around the world.

While there has been some progress in women’s participation, about seven out of every ten peace processes still did not include women mediators or women signatories—the latter indicating that few women participated in leadership roles as negotiators, guarantors, or witnesses.

Source

Where are the women?

I finish my glass of wine, pay my bill, walk to my car. I do not fear this walk could end my life.

My privilege does not escape me.

I am not evading missiles screeching through the air. I am not passing bombed out homes and firey buildings and burned out tanks along my route.

I am safe to travel the few kilometers home without passing through a checkpoint. Without fearing I will be fired upon as I drive away.

As I drive my daughter calls. My granddaughter wants to FaceTime. Not yet, I say. Let me get home.

I am a woman alone. Unlike my sisters in war-torn lands, I am safe.

And when I arrive home, I call my granddaughter and sing her a lullabye as women around the world do so that when she sleeps her dreams are filled with peace.

I know where the women are. They are sheltering their children, trying to protect them from war.

4 thoughts on “Where are the women at the table?

  1. But then the world blanked in Syria and looked away. And it indeed get much worse. We must not look away and we must hope that the sons and daughters fighting for Ukraine’s freedom come out triumphant. Battered and bruised with far too many dead and the country in ruins. And even though their homes may be destroyed I hope they have a home country to return to. The grandmothers the mothers and the children who’ve ran to escape War but really is there any escape from the horrors. Bernie

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  2. Louise, It would be great to have women at the table, but I don’t think it is a gender issue. As a survivor of an abusive marriage where I was the nurturer and my ex was a hurricane/ volcano/ H bomb. What this needs is someone to slap the bully back. I never did, and suffered as a result. It was unthinkable to hit my wife. Putin is a narcissistic asshole. No amount of talking is going to change him. We are headed for war… it is disgusting. I am a pacifist, but like Einstein, I would make the exception against fascists. Putin is a fascist.

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