Nation Building and Women: The Effect of Intervention on Women’s Agency


Caprioli, Mary, and Kimberly Lynn Douglass. 2008. “Nation Building and Women: The Effect of Intervention on Women’s Agency.” Foreign Policy Analysis 4 (1): 45–65.

Authors: Mary Caprioli, Kimberly Lynn Douglass


Regardless of the primary motive, international military intervention aimed at nation building is partly intended to establish democratic societies. And scholars have demonstrated that intervention does have a positive impact on democratization. With democratization generally follows greater support for human rights. Feminist scholars, however, have questioned definitions of democracy in which at minimal, women’s political rights are absent. This brings into question the impact of intervention on the status of women. Particularly in both Iraq and Afghanistan women’s rights have become prominent in the post-invasion American political rhetoric. Since intervention seems to be associated with the spread of democratic principles, we seek to discover whether intervention actually moves societies toward gender equality. We examine all six cases of completed military intervention aimed at nation building in sovereign states during the post Cold War period. Three of the cases—El Salvador, Mozambique, Namibia—evidence democratic change; whereas, the remaining three states—Cambodia, Haiti, Somalia—remain undemocratized. We test the extent to which intervention has or has not improved women’s equality and find no dramatic effect, either positive or negative, of intervention on the status of women in any of the six states.

Topics: Democracy / Democratization, Feminisms, Gender, Women, Gendered Power Relations, Gender Equality/Inequality, Military Forces & Armed Groups, Militaries, Political Participation, Post-Conflict, Post-Conflict Reconstruction, Rights, Human Rights, Women's Rights

Year: 2008

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