“Each time he went, we prayed, ‘Oh God, please send him home safely.’” The tired woman wringed her hands and adjusted her hijab. We all huddled around her, eager to hear more. I zoomed the camera in to her face: her sad, forlorn eyes spoke volumes as she reminisced about her experience as a young woman growing up during the Islamic Revolution. As the interview progressed, the talk became more emotional, and soon everyone in the room began tearing up. I wanted to turn off my camera, to stop, to protect the woman from her painful past, but we had to continue. She had to finish her story. We were on a mission, a mission to teach others about international humanitarian law and about how gender stereotypes affect individuals and their families during times of war. It is a subject that deeply connects each of us for we have friends and family members who suffer from gender stereotypes, too. This is what motivates us to participate in the IHL Action Campaign and to spread awareness of gender stereotypes during armed conflict, a topic to which most people turn a blind eye.
Over the last few weeks, we have spent countless hours in libraries and cafes planning our IHL Action Campaign. We decided that the best way to engage people would be to play a fun, but meaningful, Family-Feud style tournament. Participants will form teams and compete with the goal of answering the most correct questions regarding IHL and gender stereotypes during armed conflict. These questions will force players to think about issues that otherwise often receive little attention. After each round of questions, we will explain the answers and respond to any questions that the teams may have regarding IHL and gender issues. Every few rounds, there will also be bonus rounds, where instead of answering questions, teams will prepare a skit, answer a riddle, or play charades.
In addition to the game, our IHL Action Campaign includes interviews, such as the one described above. These interviews are major components of the Family-Feud style tournament we have planned, and they add a more personal and emotional aspect to the game. After each round, we will play a clip of an interview with the hope that it will move the participants and promote awareness of the unfairness that gender stereotypes create during war. At the end of the game, players will sign a pledge to “shed the gender” and take a photo in front of a large black backdrop, on which they will also be able sign their names.
Though we are a small, all-female team based in Los Angeles, our passion for IHL and our topic definitely compensates for our small size. To reach a larger audience, we have decided to hold our campaign at two different locations, one in Diamond Bar and one in Arcadia. Through our IHL Action Campaign, we hope to inspire our communities to also “shed the gender” when it comes to war.
Guest blogger: Lorelle S.
*The purpose of the IHL Action Campaign is for young people to teach their peers about the importance of IHL, as well as issues related to gender, refugees, and humanitarianism.