At one of the meetings of women who had been in the PLA [in 2014], we all agreed that we had achieved nothing. We had sacrificed everything: mother, father, husband, children. We still have bullets in our body, we are disabled, we are still injured. We decided to set up an organisation through which we would preserve our history since we are living proof that women are capable of fighting. So, we decided to set up a museum for ourselves.
There was also the question of who is a PLA woman and who is not. For us, the UN’s verification is not important. For us, anyone who fought, even if it was for just two months, they are ex-PLA. In our estimation, in total – counting every woman who worked over the 10 years of the fighting, who left after being wounded, and so on – there are around 10,000 of us.
Not only would the organisation help ex-PLA women but also work against violence against women in society. My friends did not believe the party would provide any help. But we hoped to seek funds to help the women and their children. We have not been successful so far but we have set our priorities and have also made plans and policies.
We have identified five issues. First, the biggest need for women at the moment is counselling. Second, training to make them self-reliant. Third, work to end violence against women, particularly rape. Fourth, seek cheap loans and help women to become entrepreneurs. Fifth, find schools that are willing to help the children of those who are fully incapable, such as when both parents have been paralysed after being injured in the war.