Hugo Slim wrote in 2003: To make the case for civilian identity in war requires that we are able to expose the fallacy of a singular and absolutist view of human identity that recognizes a person as only one thing at any given time.*
Whilst Slim was referring to the targeting of civilians in war, this statement rings particularly true of the role of women in the current crisis in Syria and recent attack on Gaza. The media reports the daily death tolls, never failing to mention ‘…many of whom were women and children’. These mentions, usually at the end of a piece, risk conflating the helplessness of children with that of women. It is frustrating because whilst women have special protection needs under conditions of conflict, listed by the UN as including the threat of physical and sexual violence, and lack of opportunity to participate in the peace process, they are far from passive victims. It does not further the cause of rights for women when the media sets a one-dimensional of women’s role in conflict.