ALL are women of today’s world. Brought together their individual stories represent a collective litany of lives spent on the margins, under threat or on the edge of the abyss. Most of their names I can still find, hastily scrawled down in my old notebooks.

Rabi Ibrahima, Fachi Escobar, Nadezhda Kalashnikova, Baba Hadiya and so many more. Some others only ever gave me a first name or aliases, such were the dangers and risks that still stalked their lives and those of their loved ones.

These many women whose stories I’ve listened to over the years came to mind last week after watching the horrifying video revealed as part of an investigation by the BBC and human rights group Amnesty International, and which first surfaced in July this year.

Entitled Anatomy of a Killing, it’s an analysis of the original video which shows two women and their children being blindfolded and shot 22 times by soldiers in the central African country of Cameroon.

Initially the video was dismissed as “fake news” by Cameroon’s government, which has since arrested some of the soldiers shown in the video. The UN too has called for an immediate investigation into the killings.

What unfolds in the footage is incredibly difficult to watch, in much the same way as many of the stories of those women that inhabit my notebooks make for difficult reading. Some are among the most horrific accounts I have ever documented as a reporter.

Aside from their discomfiting details, perhaps the most troubling is the way each of their stories so easily mirrors that of many women subjected to the violence and hardship that accompanies war.

Their willingness to recount the events they and their families have experienced stems from a desire for the world at large to understand what women like them have gone through.

For no particular reason, let me begin with Rabi Ibrahima, whom I met in the West African nation of Niger, described at the time by humanitarian agencies as officially the worst place in the world to be a mother.

When we talked, Rabi and her family were not, for the first time, facing hunger. Should things continue as they are, she told me, as sole surviving parent she would have no choice but to return again to the termite mounds. How else will she feed her children?

Dotted across the parched desert landscape these conical heaps of sand, moulded from the bugs’ saliva, are home to insect communities, which thrive in a place where human beings scarcely survive.

Here there is nothing but mile after mile of baked sand and rock, with no trace of moisture. Dotted around sit empty, abandoned villages. Armed Islamist militias roam and operate here, adding to the insecurity and forced movement of civilians.

The trail of footprints in the sand heading out into the wilderness was the only ghostly clue to those villagers for whom life had become so bleak they had no choice but to move on in the hope of survival.

“When there is nothing left to eat we break down the termite nests where the insects store little amounts of grain, and if we’re lucky we find enough for a few cups that we ground down into a paste,” explained Rabi.

“It helps a bit but after an hour or so you are hungry again,” she adds, describing a desperate daily ritual carried out by as many as a quarter of the households in her village of Sarou.

Those arid deserts of Niger could not be further removed though from the lush green rainforests of Colombia in Latin America. One day I travelled along the waters of a place they call the River of Butterflies. Occasionally I was to see some of the insects, big, brash and beautiful, as our canoe made its way upstream through the khaki-coloured water of the Rio Andagueda to the mining towns of Bagado and San Marino.

Silent and fleeting, the butterflies’ delicate presence hovers in marked contrast to the giant lumbering steel diggers that trundle to and fro on the banks of the river hewing out chunks of rainforest.

For time immemorial this same dense humid forest has been the habitat of these butterflies and Colombia’s indigenous people. Today the Embera are one of 34 indigenous peoples identified as at risk of physical and cultural extinction.

Left-wing guerrilla groups, right-wing paramilitaries and drug gangs all pose a threat to the Embera and other peoples. Almost all these armed groups too are caught up in the illegal gold mining trade that rips the heart out of the rainforest in which the Embera live. In doing so they poison the rivers with the highly toxic chemical mercury used in their indiscriminate extraction of the gold.

“All the armed groups have taken our lives and we have always been caught in the middle of the conflicts,” a young Embera woman called Ana told me.

As we talked I asked about the significance of the painted design on her face, that many Embera women chose to have.

“It is the pattern of a snake,” she tells me, adding that for the Embera a close connection with nature is an integral part of the culture. This of course means nothing to those involved in the illegal mining trade, and anyone that stands in their way are ruthlessly dealt with.

Killings, rapes disappearances and forced displacement are all the weapons of the armed group that have thrived in Colombia over many years in rural and urban areas.

It was while in one northern town, Apartado, that Fachi Escobar told me her story.

It was there the three traumatic events that were to shape her life started to unfold. The first of these was the violent death of her husband Moises, then the gruesome killing of her son. Finally, she herself would become a victim of torture and sexual abuse.

“My husband was tortured in the worst way. They pulled his eyes and toenails out when he was still alive,” Fachi told me the day we talked in Apartado.

The motive for Moises killing was simply that he had helped the local authorities recover the bodies and fingerprints of other banana workers massacred by the paramilitaries for having the audacity to try to unionise.

Deciding to flee over 100 miles to the town of Arboletes, Fachi took a job on a nearby ranch and farm. There she milked cows and helped make cheese, but at the same time came to the attention of another paramilitary chief who wanted to recruit her 14-year-old sister Deinani as a child soldier. Fachi had the youngster sent away for safety and, as a result, was to be targeted.

“One day I saw some men on horses, they crossed a creek near my house and they carried guns and had their faces covered with ski masks,” Fachi told me, her body language suggesting she was bracing herself for recounting what followed.

“You put your sister away so you are going to pay for that,” the chief gunman told Fachi, who by then was seven months pregnant, expecting another son by her second husband. What followed next as the gunman pushed Fachi into a bedroom was to further indelibly scar her for life.

“He ripped my clothes, raped and sodomised me. The other men did the same,” Fachi recalls, describing those terrible moments of her ordeal in such graphic detail that my Colombian interpreter found himself struggling emotionally to continue translating.

BLEEDING profusely from her wounds, Fachi was told in hospital that her baby was lost – another child gone, along with her first husband, and now she herself a victim of paramilitary atrocities.

It was at this moment, however, that this courageous, remarkable woman decided to devote herself to working with other victims of sexual violence in Colombia’s conflict.

“I now live with my granddaughter and we are involved in the victims’ support programme,” she told me proudly.

As Fachi now looks towards the last years of her life she continues daily to face the terrible trauma of the past. Other women with equal courage, however, face the trauma of the present. Women like Nadezhda Kalashnikova and Baba Hadiya.

A shroud of mist and drizzle hung over the village of Triokhizbenka in eastern Ukraine the day I visited Nadezhda Kalashnikova. It was on the same quaint village streets lined with their little tumbledown houses and slatted wooden fences that Nadezhda and her nine-year-old daughter Valentina were walking when the spectre of war came to visit them in person.

“We had been for a vaccination at a nearby hospital and were on our way back a short distance from home when the shelling started, recalled Nadezhda

What she and her husband Anatoliy described next was something that will haunt both their lives forever. It was the moment when a shell fell from the sky thumping into the ground, barely three yards from Nadezhda and Valentina, scattering its lethal red-hot razor-edged shrapnel in all directions.

The little girl was killed instantly and her mother torn apart by the deadly flying metal, resulting in the loss of her left leg.

As we talk in the modest living room of their home, Nadezhda sits on the edge of a bed, her other daughter, seven-month-old Polina, propped in her lap.

Around the floor is scattered some of the toddler’s toys. Nadezhda is wearing a dressing gown but the stump and wide scar of her amputated leg is clearly visible, as are other now healed wounds on her right calf.

From eastern Ukraine to far off north-eastern Nigeria it was a similar momentary blast that left Baba Hadiya blinded in one eye, blew off her left arm beneath the elbow and killed her sister.

Some who survived the blast that day, in the marketplace in the dusty town of Gombe, say the suicide bomber was a young girl.

As Baba speaks it becomes instantly obvious that this is a woman who believes it’s important for people to fully understand what such acts of violence meted out by the Islamist terrorists of Boko Haram really mean for its victims.

Bravely and discreetly she slides up her hijab towards her shoulders to show the terrible injuries the blast inflicted and the stump of her left arm, which hangs limply. Two years on, the scars on her right arm still look raw and her fingers seem locked in a painful claw-like grip. Remarkably, despite the pain Boko Haram have inflicted on Baba and many others, never once among the women I spoke with did I hear talk of revenge or retribution.

Finding a way to feed, house, school and ensure the health of their children was always first and foremost.

Before I left Baba Hadiya that day in Gombe, I asked what she now thought of those Boko Haram members who had planted the bomb in the market, that killed her sister and left her with such terrible life-changing injuries.

“Those responsible are an enemy to us all,” she replied simply. “But I have left them in the hands of God.”

There is now no doubt that today’s conflicts disproportionately affect women. As wars have moved from battlefields to villages, women and girls have become more vulnerable. For many, the home front no longer exists; every house is now on the front line.

From Somalia to Srebrenica, Democratic Republic of Congo to Kenya and beyond, the courage of the many women I have met caught up on those front lines is remarkable. Their willingness to recount events to help make others understand what they have gone through will always remain both humbling and inspirational.