Wonder Woman has had an insane box office release. The Gal Gadot-Patty Jenkins superhero vehicle has raked in a staggering $435.2 million worldwide in under two weeks. Audiences are clearly starved for strong female heroes, and they’ve turned out in droves to witness one who happens to counter violence and promote peace. Will this historic film turn out to be a secret weapon that advances women’s rights and counters terrorism across the globe?
Responders to security and counterterrorism issues, commonly in the form of police and military enforcement, have long can been considered male-dominated endeavors, and, on the policy side, women are often completely absent from the peace-building table. Women’s active roles as change agents to prevent cultural and religious-based violence has been largely overlooked.
However, according to a growing number of peace and security organizations, like ICAN and the Global Center for Cooperative Security, women can and do play crucial roles in both detecting early signs of violence, intervening before terror attacks and delegitimizing cultural or religious-based violence.
With the United Nations Security Council resolution 1325 on women, peace and security, increased attention by international organizations has been paid to fostering roles for women to counter and prevent the outbreak of violence, terror and war. This resolution recognized the disproportionate contribution of women against violent conflict and affirms the participatory representation of women in building peaceful societies in local and international frameworks. Drawing on the expertise of peace practitioners, policy makers and gender advisers, we are now living in an era where countering violence and terrorism can be improved by considering women in peace-building strategies.
As it is beautifully depicted in the Wonder Woman film, when women partake in peace-promoting efforts, we can unleash passion and a new level of activity in countering evil in epic proportions.
Wonder Woman showcases an emerging generation of women as first-responders, including their best achievements and challenges. The film reminds us that core changes are needed to ensure that women are treated with equality and in full recognition of their giftedness. We see how stakeholders must be fully convinced of women’s capabilities and invest in female leaders to help them utilize their talents to make a lasting impact. Even more, women need role models who can support, mentor and guide them.
The box office hit also signals the contribution that media can make in shaping public discourse, mobilizing women to implement solutions to resolve violent conflict. In fact, media is proving to be the fastest way to change stereotypes about women and give them a platform to expand their impact.
As extremist groups increase in influence with strategic attacks on women’s rights and freedoms, we must recognize even more that women must play important roles as peace makers. Thus, women are an untapped resource for security and male-dominated solutions are a long-term threat to society. Wonder Woman illustrates a robust perspective of women’s roles in security efforts and the need to provide training not only in earning a living, but also in developing a women’s movement that is committed to building safe, free and civil societies.
Shirin Taber is the author of Muslims Next Door: Uncovering Myths and Creating Friendships — a book for North Americans to help readers better relate to their Muslim friends and neighbors — and the director of the Middle East Women’s Leadership Network (MEWLN) an organization focused on helping women become world-class leaders by creating media for their mission. She is a graduate of the University of Washington and speaks English, Farsi and French, and lives in Southern California with her husband and three children. Follow her on Twitter here and contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.