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Documentary Showcases Women's Role in Ending Liberia's Civil War

Liberian women from all religious and academic backgrounds played a courageous role to end the country's bloody civil war which lasted from 1989 to 2003.

Wearing only white T-shirts, the women took on the warlords, including Charles Taylor and nonviolently brought peace to Liberia.

Well, their strength and perseverance in stopping the country's brutal civil war is the subject of a documentary – "Pray the Devil Back to Hell".

It is showing in over 200 cities around the world, and tonight (Wednesday) the documentary will be shown at the World Bank in Washington, D.C.

Abigail Disney, producer of "Pray the Devil Back to Hell", said the documentary is being shown at this time because it embodies the message of the UN International Day of Peace observed every year on September 21.

"It seems really important to mark the UN International Day of Peace because the film is really about all the aspects of fighting for peace. It's about civil disobedient and organizing and rising up and raising your voice for peace. So we wanted to bring some attention to the UN International Day of Peace," she said.

Disney said the documentary is being shown in over 200 cities in all seven continents.

"It's even showing in Antarctica; it's been translated into 20 languages. Americans need to understand that just because a film is about Africa, not only just Africans care about it. These women did something that was extraordinary, and it's interesting to anyone everywhere," Disney said.

She said she made the documentary to convey different messages, including the need to respect the courageous role Liberian women played in stopping their country's war.

"I made the film in part because simple matter of respect that seems as appropriate that people should know and remember what these women accomplished. And it just really bothers me that nobody honored what they did," she said.

As Liberians debate what to do about the recommendations of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission's final report, Disney hoped they will draw some lessons from the women who played such a key role in stopping the war.

"I think the lesson is that if you really truly bring the voices of people to the process, and not just the voices of few people, but the voices of all the people of the grassroots, you'll have a richer process," she said.

Disney said while it was left to Liberians to decide what to do with the TRC final report, she was beginning to worry the voices of Liberian women were being drowned out.

"It does seem that the women's voices were starting to get drowned out again. So I'm glad to see that Leyman (Gbowee, leader of the women movement) has gone back to Liberia and has been working very hard on demystifying the report for the same women who were out there in the fields so that they can make their own decisions about what the report means," Disney said.

Pray the Devil Back to Hell features strong women leaders such as Asatu Bah Kenneth, Etweda Cooper, and Leymah Gbowee.

Disney said many of these women continue to lead in many ways today.

"Leyman in particular has started an organization called WIPSEN-A which is Women Peace and Security Africa, and they are doing work training women in other countries to do similar things, to rise up to organize and to get their voices heard at the policy level," Disney said.

Disney said Gbowee has been asked by the governments of Chad and Nigeria to come and work with women in those countries.