“Literally, we left our school desks to join the army. I was 16 when I joined the Medical Corps. The fact is that being women in the army, we had to prove ourselves. There, we were surrounded by friends from before the war. Unfortunately, with time, some of those friendships disappeared along with our friends.”
— Katerina Kaltak joined the Bosnian Army Medical Corps at 16 with her older sister, Kristina Mujak. They enlisted after their younger sister, who was eleven at the time, was killed by artillery fire in July 1992.
As seen from the hills surrounding the city, where Serbian snipers were positioned during the Bosnian War.
“Where did we get our strength to keep fighting? We had no choice, we had to work hard in order to liberate our country so we can reunite with our family. I told my children how hard our life was during the war so that they can understand. I tell them that even though we had a difficult time during the war, we overcame, so that they too should overcome difficulty and study well to develop their character. To study well so you can help other people, help the society, help the family.”
— Võ Thi Yên, born 1949, was a member of the North Vietnamese Army.
“When the war started, I hoped all time that it wasn’t real, that the passions would settle down and everything would go back to normal. However, as it continued, I felt that it was going to last forever. But now, the hard memories from the war are gone. As soon as you realize that you have to proceed with your life, then you learn how to deal with these hard memories.”
— Dževada Trešnjo, born 1964 in Foca. Served in the Bosnian Army Medical Corps, lost her hand while trying to protect a young boy who had been wounded by enemy fire.
“I don’t talk with my mother so much about these things, I don’t know why. I think it’s really hard for us to talk freely about it. The kids of Bosnia should never forget what has happened because if they forget, it might happen again. Yet now, the way our generation remembers the war is just not enough.”
— S, who wished to remain anonymous, is the daughter of a Bosnian Muslim woman from Srebrenica who married at 14 and became pregnant with S just as the war was beginning. S’s father was killed in the Srebrenica massacre shortly after she was born. Her mother remarried to an Imam; they now live outside Sarajevo.
At a mosque where a number of the members are women who were displaced from Srebrenica during the war.
“[Women] reared the children, had to go out and get a job to put food on the table. They went on the marches. You know, there’s thousands of women like them, women you’ve have never heard of. It was just the norm to them. They didn’t want to be put on a pedestal. It was just normal for them to do...they became very strong, very independent women.”
— Mary Doyle, a member of the Irish Republican Army and one of three women to participate in the 1980 Hunger Strike while imprisoned at Armagh Prison on charges of harboring incendiary devices.
A street child, who wished to remain anonymous, was raped during protests in Tahrir following the fall of Mubarak.
Aya Mohsen, 14 is highly active on Twitter, frequently posting critiques of the Supreme Council of Armed Forces. She often engages in political debates at home with her parents, both of who have served in the military, yet who encourage their daughter to think for herself, even if it means defying what they believe.
Protests on election day in Taalat Square.
Nura Osmanović, 61, is one of a group of women who are originally from Srebrenica, but are currently living just outside Sarajevo. The women fled Srebrenica during the massacre in July 1995, never to return to their homes, which were subsequently destroyed or occupied by Serb forces.
"I do not know why some are called mukti juddha but we are called birangona...I used to care for and serve food to other freedom fighters when they would come to our house. Why are we not freedom fighters, too?”
— Hasina Begum was raped by the West Pakistani army during the Liberation War. After the war, women who were raped were given the honorific term birangona (war heroine), which soon became a mark of shame as many women were rejected by their families. Hasina has pushed back against the social stigma associated with rape, maintaining birangonas should be called mukti juddha (freedom fighters), like those who fought.
Fortieth anniversary memorial service of the Liberation War at the Shahid Minar (Language Martyrs' Memorial) at Dhaka University.
"I sang for the soldiers. Before they would take the field for battle, me and the others girls would gather together and sing to them songs of freedom. Then they would go and fight for our liberation."
— Dalia Nausheen, a singer, traveled around to Freedom Fighter and refugee camps in India, singing songs of freedom for the women and men training for the war, providing support, and sheltering themselves and their families.
A dog emerges from the brush where the frontlines were during the Bosnian War, where Serbian troops surrounded and beseiged the city of Sarajevo.
A mother of 5, Abla Farok Ahmed was never active in politics. But when her son was arrested on false grounds at a protest where he had gone to search for his younger brother, she started attending protests to see if she could find details on his whereabouts. She soon discovered he was being detained and tortured at a military detention center outside Cairo. When she located him, he had already faced trial and been found guilty on fabricated charges. With the help of No Military Trials for Civilians, she is pressuring for an appeal. She is also organizing other mothers—now 700 strong—to protest against military trials.
“I used to walk across what was called Murder Mile during the height of the troubles to get home from my university classes.”
— Bronagh Hinds, founder of DemocraShe and a founding member of the Northern Ireland Women’s Coalition during the Peace Talks following the Troubles in Northern Ireland.
“You’ve lived in peace, you’ve grown up in peace, you just couldn’t believe that something like that could ever happen. It was terrible and I wouldn’t wish war upon anyone.”
— Anđelka Knežević, 61 years old. A Bosnian Serb, she came from a family with a number of mixed marriages. She lost her husband of 18 years to the war on April 21, 1992, and afterward fled to Serbia with her children, where she served as a cook in the Serbian Army.
“We used to live in poverty, but people were happier. You should never forget it, but you have to live on.”
— Alija Džananović, is a Bosnian Muslim from Srebrenica and one of the first people to return home following the massacre of Bosnian Muslim men that took place in there in July 1995.
Youths rest on an old fort in the hills of Sarajevo waiting for sunset and the end of the day's fast during the month of Ramadan.
"This year will be the twenty-first year since my brother and father went missing. I am still trying to find them. But I really hate that word — missing. These men had hearts. Hearts that were pounding. They had families...I am not allowed to say the name of my father or speak of his nationality, that he was a Serb. I don’t care about Bosnia or Serbia. My father was born as a Serb and he died a Serb. The same goes for Muslims or Christians."
— Milka Kokot, a Bosnian Serb, lost her father and brother in 1992 during the war and has not been able to find and bury their remains.
A woman of mixed ethnicity in Sarajevo. Families of mixed ethnicities face discrimination and have a significantly more difficult time finding appropriate political representation, as political parties in Bosnia are ethnicity-based.
A Loyalist house in Belfast.
Sonya Elezar, a Jewish woman who provided shelter and food to others in the heart of Sarajevo during the war, while the city was under seige.
"The troubles had started when I was 10 years old. In 1969 the British Army came on the streets of Belfast and from then on that’s how I knew my life to be. British soldiers arresting people, shooting people, shooting some people dead. So that was life as I knew it when I was 10 years old."
— Ann Marie Quinn, a Catholic Republican, joined the Irish Republican Army when she was in her late teens. She was later imprisoned at Armagh Women’s Prison alongside 32 other women of the IRA.
A young girl walks by the memorial to the victims of the Srebrenica massacre.
"I’m not a closed type of person. What I mean, I say. I have shared everything with my family, but it is hard to share the truth – the real suffering that I went through, that’s hard to share even with my own siblings. I want to tell them some details, because I don’t want this to happen again and I want them to be very well aware and prepared for something that might happen again in the future. There are so many things that I need to speak about."
— Hasija Branković was raped by Serbian soldiers during the war. She testified about her experiences at the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia at the Hague.
Youths play on an old fort in the hills of Sarajevo.
“During the war, I used to hide weapons underneath my sari and bring them to the Freedom Fighters. I would sometimes have to bury them in the middle of the night to hide them from the West Pakistani army.”
— Begum Gulferdous, freedom fighter, pictured with her granddaughter, was one of nine children. She was active in local politics prior to the war, and served as a spy and weapons smuggler after the war broke out.
Shaheen Akhtar was separated from her mother at the start of the war, as she was visiting her brother outside the city. As thousands fled the city, she worked her way back with her brother to be reunited with her family, walking for days and taking rickshaws whenever possible. When they arrived in the city, they found themselves in the middle of a warzone, and hid out in a family friend's house for the duration of the war. After months of no contact, their mother returned home in the fall of 1971, severely malnourished and weakened after months of hiding. Shaheen is now a prominent Bangladeshi filmmaker.
Road captured by Bangladeshi guerrilla forces.
Battlefield between West Pakistani and guerrilla forces.
Fortieth anniversary memorial service of the Liberation War, at the Dhaka University campus.
"Both of my sons and my husband went off to fight during the war. One of my sons never came back. But I am proud. I am proud to be a war mother and a war wife."
— Ameya Khatun, born 1934, cared for her younger children while her two sons and husband went off to fight.
Fortieth anniversary memorial service of the Liberation War at the Dhaka University campus.
“The transition from arms struggle to purely political struggle for me was seamless. I wasn’t handcuffed to arms. I wasn’t fighting a war for the sake of fighting a war. I fought in the absence of options. Morally, once there were options, I was obligated to seize them. Would we take the risk? And we did. We called a unilateral ceasefire. I think we made absolutely the right decision.”
— Eibhlin Glenholmes, joined the IRA as a young woman and became a highly active member, carrying out missions against British troops. She was considered the most wanted woman in the UK for 23 years, until she was granted amnesty.
“I have lived with these wounds in both of my legs for my whole life. I got them while fighting with Sector 9 in the Liberation War. But the government does not pay me the Freedom Fighter stipend they pay the men. I get no help from the government. Now, my family has nothing.”
— Kakon Bibi fought in the war, but does not receive the stipend from the government that male veterans receive. She and her family live in extreme poverty in the northeast of Bangladesh.
Waterways were used to flee the city following the start of the war in March 1971. Millions vacated Dhaka to hide in village family homes, but many who used the country's rivers for transport were fired upon and killed mid-transit.
“As a woman Freedom Fighter I feel proud, all women cannot do what I did; I was not just a housewife or passing my time in India as a refugee. I was fighting for my country.”
— Rounak Mohal Dilruba Begum recruited, organized, and helped train six groups of young men to fight in Bangladesh’s Liberation War of 1971.