Printer-friendly versionSend by emailPDF version

Northern Europe

Women as Agents of Political Violence: Gendering Security


Alison, Miranda. 2004. “Women as Agents of Political Violence: Gendering Security.” Security Dialogue 35 (4): 447-63.

Author: Miranda Alison


This article challenges the idea that women are necessarily more peaceful than men by looking at examples of female combatants in ethno-nationalist military organizations in Sri Lanka and Northern Ireland. Anti-state, liberatory nationalisms often provide more space (ideologically and practically) for women to participate as combatants than do institutionalized state or pro-state nationalisms, and this can be seen in the cases of the LTTE in Sri Lanka and the IRA in Northern Ireland when contrasted with loyalist paramilitaries in Northern Ireland. However, the role of the female combatant is ambiguous and indicates a tension between different conceptualizations of societal security, where female combatants both fight against societal insecurity posed by the state and contribute to internal societal insecurity within their ethno-national groups.

Topics: Armed Conflict, Combatants, Female Combatants, Gender, Women, Military Forces & Armed Groups, Non-state Armed Groups, Security Regions: Asia, South Asia, Europe, Northern Europe Countries: Sri Lanka, United Kingdom

Year: 2004

Domesticating Military Masculinities: Home, Performance and the Negotiation of Identity


Atherton, Stephen. 2009. “Domesticating Military Masculinities: Home, Performance and the Negotiation of Identity.” Social & Cultural Geography 10 (8): 821-36.

Author: Stephen Atherton


Here, I explore the domestication of masculine identities that occurs within the British Army, and the transitions that take place upon re-entry into civilian life. Through oral accounts I highlight how men renegotiate their identity within the 'home' and within 'society' and seek to add to the debate on how we analyse a cultural repertoire of masculinities that are appropriate to particular places. In particular, I draw out: (1) how a domesticated body fit for purpose is created and maintained within the British Army; (2) how and with what effect an embodied routine and self-discipline is transferred into a home environment; and (3) the re-imaging of home life through the performance of these masculine identities.

Topics: Combatants, Male Combatants, Gender, Men, Masculinity/ies, Military Forces & Armed Groups, Militaries Regions: Europe, Northern Europe Countries: United Kingdom

Year: 2009

Women’s Health, Changes and Challenges in Health Policy Development in Lithuania


Kalediene, Ramune, and Ruta Nadisauskiene. 2002. “Women’s Health, Changes and Challenges in Health Policy Development in Lithuania.” Reproductive Health Matters 10 (20): 117-26.

Authors: Ramune Kalediene, Ruta Nadisauskiene


Health is a sensitive mirror of social circumstances. This paper looks at the situation of women's health in Lithuania in the context of the social, political and economic transition in the country following independence in 1990, and reforms to the health system. Data since 1990 show that considerable social and demographic inequalities in the health of women exist in Lithuania, with low-educated women and those living in rural areas in the most unfavourable situation, including in relation to reproductive health. Reproductive health issues have received some recognition in recent years, with the main attention and resources directed to the development of a Maternal and Child Health Programme, especially perinatal care and the organisation of neonatology services, which has resulted in a notable decrease in maternal, perinatal and infant mortality. Services for family planning, abortion, infertility, cervical and breast cancer, and violence against women are under-developed. Non-governmental organizations are beginning to be formed to advocate for increased resources and services for reproductive health. Improvements in the health status of Lithuanian women can be expected if attention is paid to social determinants of health.

Topics: Armed Conflict, National Liberation Wars, Gender, Women, Girls, Boys, Health, Mental Health, Reproductive Health, Post-Conflict Regions: Europe, Baltic states, Northern Europe Countries: Lithuania

Year: 2002

Surveying Politics of Peace, Gender, Conflict and Identity in Northern Ireland: The Case of the Derry Peace Women in 1972


Callaghan, Marie Hammond. 2002. “Surveying Politics of Peace, Gender, Conflict and Identity in Northern Ireland: The Case of the Derry Peace Women in 1972.” Women’s Studies International Forum 25 (1): 33–49. doi:10.1016/S0277-5395(02)00216-9.

Author: Marie Hammond Callaghan


This article introduces the story of the Derry Peace Women (DPW) founded in May 1972, at the height of the contemporary Northern Irish conflict. Located in Catholic working-class nationalist and republican areas of Derry City and driven by civil rights aspirations as well as maternalist motivations, the DPW reflected some women’s efforts in one of the most severely affected areas of the North of Ireland to find a peaceful solution to the conflict. They appear to have played limited roles in facilitating republican cease-fires in 1972, as well as encouraging diplomatic efforts between republican paramilitaries and officials in the Northern Ireland government. However, fundamental structural inequalities, including gender conditions, in an increasingly polarised and militarised society, ultimately left them little political power or ‘room to manoeuvre’.

Topics: Armed Conflict, Gender, Women, Gendered Power Relations, Gender Equality/Inequality, Military Forces & Armed Groups, Militarization, Nonviolence, Peace Processes, Political Participation Regions: Europe, Northern Europe Countries: United Kingdom

Year: 2002

A Few Kind Women: Gender Essentialism and Nordic Peacekeeping Operations


Valenius, Johanna. 2007. “A Few Kind Women: Gender Essentialism and Nordic Peacekeeping Operations.” International Peacekeeping 14 (4): 510–23.

Author: Johanna Valenius


This article examines constructions of gender in UN documents and peace operations. The focus is on gender mainstreaming: the kinds of notion of men and women that are produced in gender mainstreaming and what kind of effect mainstreaming has. Based on an analysis of the key UN documents and the fieldwork among Finnish peacekeepers in Kosovo, the argument is that gender mainstreaming documents and practices tend to rely on essentialized notions of women as victims and inherently peaceful. The consequences of this are twofold. On the one hand the international community is not able to see local women as agents of their own future. On the other, the participation of women in peacekeeping forces is promoted on the basis of an alleged pacifying effect on their male colleagues. As a result traditional gender roles are reinforced and the variations in masculinities and femininities are ignored.

Topics: Gender, Women, Masculinity/ies, Gender Roles, Femininity/ies, Gender Mainstreaming, Gendered Discourses, International Organizations, Peacekeeping, Peace Processes Regions: Europe, Nordic states, Northern Europe Countries: Finland

Year: 2007

Poor Quality of Life and Health in Young to Middle Aged Bosnian Female War Refugees: A Population-Based Study


Sundquist, Jan, Alija Behmen-Vincevic, and Sven-Erik Johansson. 1998. “Poor Quality of Life and Health in Young to Middle Aged Bosnian Female War Refugees: A Population-Based Study.” Public Health 112 (1): 21–26. doi:10.1038/

Authors: Jan Sundquist, Alija Behmen-Vincevic, Sven-Erik Johansson


Objective: To evaluate whether female Bosnian refugees have a poorer quality of life than Swedish women.

Design: A cross-sectional study of quality of life using a slightly modified ‘Göteborg Quality of Life’ instrument. The women rated their global well-being (19 items) on a 7-degree scale ranging from ‘very bad’ (1) ‘to excellent, could not be better’. The second part of the questionnaire consisted of 29 yes/no items about somatic and psychological symptoms which should take less than 5 min to complete. Factor analysis was performed in order to reduce the number of variables. Differences between mean ranks were tested by the Kruskal–Wallis test. Differences in distributions of the yes/no-questions in the different groups were tested with a likelihood ratio χ2 test.

Setting: Malmö and Lund, two cities in Southern Sweden.

Subjects: A simple random sample of 120 women aged 18–59, born in Bosnia-Hercegovina with accepted refugee status, and registered in Lund and Malmö, was interviewed. The control group for this was 292 Swedish women of the same age, registered in Dalby (Lund). The response rate for Bosnian women was 74% and for Swedish women 75%.

Main outcome measures: The factor analysis resulted in one factor, ‘global health’, to which all the well-being variables were related.

Results: 38% of the Bosnian and 23% of the Swedes had bad global health. Bosnian women with bad global health had lower mean rankings than Swedish women, namely low quality of life in ‘appetite’, ‘memory’, ‘leisure time’, and aspects of mental well-being such as ‘energy’, ‘patience’, ‘sleep’, ‘mood’, and ‘health’. They also had larger proportions of symptoms than Swedish women.

Conclusions: Bosnian women irrespective of health status had a poorer quality of life in most variables and more symptoms than Swedish women with good global health.

Keywords: Bosnian refugees, quality of life, cross-sectional study, female health

Topics: Displacement & Migration, Refugees, Gender, Women, Health, Mental Health, Post-Conflict Regions: Europe, Balkans, Eastern Europe, Nordic states, Northern Europe Countries: Bosnia & Herzegovina, Sweden

Year: 1998

Shattering Silence: Women, Nationalism, and Political Subjectivity in Northern Ireland


Aretxaga, Begoña. 1997. Shattering Silence: Women, Nationalism, and Political Subjectivity in Northern Ireland. Princeton: Princeton University Press.

Author: Begoña Aretxaga


This book, the first feminist ethnography of the violence in Northern Ireland, is an analysis of a political conflict through the lens of gender. The case in point is the working-class Catholic resistance to British rule in Northern Ireland. During the 1970s women in Catholic/nationalist districts of Belfast organized themselves into street committees and led popular forms of resistance against the policies of the government of Northern Ireland and, after its demise, against those of the British. In the abundant literature on the conflict, however, the political tactics of nationalist women have passed virtually unnoticed. Begoña Aretxaga argues here that these hitherto invisible practices were an integral part of the social dynamic of the conflict and had important implications for the broader organization of nationalist forms of resistance and gender relationships.

Combining interpretative anthropology and poststructuralist feminist theory, Aretxaga contributes not only to anthropology and feminist studies but also to research on ethnic and social conflict by showing the gendered constitution of political violence. She goes further than asserting that violence affects men and women differently by arguing that the manners in which violence is gendered are not fixed but constantly shifting, depending on the contingencies of history, social class, and ethnic identity. Thus any attempt at subverting gender inequality is necessarily colored by other dimensions of political experience. (Princeton University Press)

Topics: Gender, Women, Nationalism Regions: Europe, Northern Europe Countries: United Kingdom

Year: 1997

The Swedish Law That Prohibits the Purchase of A Sexual Service: Best Practices for Prevention of Prostitution and Trafficking in Human Beings


Ekberg, Gunilla. 2004. “The Swedish Law That Prohibits the Purchase of A Sexual Service: Best Practices for Prevention of Prostitution and Trafficking in Human Beings.” Violence Against Women 10 (10): 1187-218.

Author: Gunilla Ekberg


After several years of public debate initiated by the Swedish women’s movement, the Law that Prohibits the Purchase of Sexual Services came into force on January 1, 1999. The Law is the first attempt by a country to address the root cause of prostitution and trafficking in beings: the demand, the men who assume the right to purchase persons for prostitution purposes. This groundbreaking law is a cornerstone of Swedish efforts to create a contemporary, democratic society where women and girls can live lives free of all forms of male violence. In combination with public education, awareness-raising campaigns, and victim support, the Law and other legislation establish a zero tolerance policy for prostitution and trafficking in human beings. When the buyers risk punishment, the number of men who buy prostituted persons decreases, and the local prostitution markets become less lucrative. Traffickers will then choose other and more profitable destinations.

Keywords: prostitution, Swedish law, trafficking in human beings

Topics: Gender, Women, Girls, Gender-Based Violence, Livelihoods, Sexual livelihoods, Trafficking, Human Trafficking, Sex Trafficking Regions: Europe, Nordic states, Northern Europe Countries: Sweden

Year: 2004

Gender Mainstreaming and Peace-Building in War Torn Societies


Gizelis, Ismene. 2004. “Gender Mainstreaming and Peace-Building in War Torn Societies.” Paper presented at the Annual Meeting of the International Studies Association, Montreal, March 17.

Author: Ismene Gizelis


Listening to representatives from some of the most resilient conflicts (e.g. Israeli-Palestinians, Eritrea-Ethiopia, Chechnya, and Kurds) one cannot ignore that the participants either as civilians or as military personnel articulate their hatred against the opposing group. Interestingly some of the harshest words against the opposing group come from women. So far the literature has emphasized the role of women as victims (especially in the cases of rape victims) and it has ignored the role of women as active participants in the conflict. A poignant example was the hostage crisis in the Moscow theater where women were a large portion of the Chechnyan guerilla group. In previous studies I examined the impact of women to the outcome of ethnic conflicts, where the socio-economic status of women influenced their attitudes and willingness to participate in the war effort (Besançon and Gizelis 1999, 2000, 2002). Alternatively, new studies have shown that women's issues are secondary at best to demands of self-determination of the particular ethnic group. Hence, women are willing to fight for the group as a whole rather than the advancement of their own rights. Based on previous studies, women's socio-economic status might determine their ability to influence the peace settlement process. On the other hand, women might be some of the most unwilling participants in such processes, since they are the ones with most of the grievances during the conflict. Gender issues have at least nominally become mainstreamed, as an integral component of recognized human rights. Nevertheless, even in cases of interventions sponsored by the UN and/or leading democratic powers, such as the United States, there is only lip service paid to the protection of women's rights. There are three issues emerging from this discussion: First, do women actively facilitate the process of a peaceful settlement; second, do women promote policies related to gender as part of the human rights discourse; and third, do external actors who support democratic institutions and human rights values also enhance the role and rights of women in the post-war settlement. In this paper [Gizelistr[ies] to address these three questions by a comparative and cross-sectional statistical analysis of 127 civil conflicts and peace keeping operations, and by using as examples the cases of South Africa, Northern Ireland, and Israel-Palestine.

Topics: Armed Conflict, Combatants, Female Combatants, Democracy / Democratization, Gender, Women, Gender Roles, Gender Mainstreaming, Peacebuilding, Peace Processes, Political Participation, Post-Conflict, Post-Conflict Reconstruction, Rights, Human Rights, Women's Rights Regions: Africa, MENA, Southern Africa, Asia, Middle East, Europe, Northern Europe Countries: Israel, Palestine / Occupied Palestinian Territories, South Africa, United Kingdom

Year: 2004

The Duty to Protect: Gender in the Swedish Practice of Conscription


Kronsell, Annica, and Erika Svedberg. 2001. “The Duty to Protect: Gender in the Swedish Practice of Conscription.” Cooperation and Conflict 36 (2): 153–76. doi:10.1177/001083601400422379.

Authors: Annica Kronsell, Erika Svedberg


In this article, we turn first to a brief discussion of feminist contributions in the field of security, defense, and collective identity, and then argue that Swedish nationalism is tied to a particular form of collective identity formation through the practice of conscription. Drawing on Elshtain's notions of 'just warriors' and 'beautiful souls', we go on to spell out how women, historically, have been situated within the discourse of militarism. Finally, we look at how the contribution of women to the military has been perceived and argued, and then point out how a small number of female soldiers may be instrumental in exposing a particular value system of gender, citizenship, and collective identity.

Topics: Feminisms, Gender, Women, Military Forces & Armed Groups, Militaries, Militarism Regions: Europe, Nordic states, Northern Europe Countries: Sweden

Year: 2001


© 2019 CONSORTIUM ON GENDER, SECURITY & HUMAN RIGHTSLEGAL STATEMENT All photographs used on this site, and any materials posted on it, are the property of their respective owners, and are used by permission. Photographs: The images used on the site may not be downloaded, used, or reproduced in any way without the permission of the owner of the image. Materials: Visitors to the site are welcome to peruse the materials posted for their own research or for educational purposes. These materials, whether the property of the Consortium or of another, may only be reproduced with the permission of the owner of the material. This website contains copyrighted materials. The Consortium believes that any use of copyrighted material on this site is both permissive and in accordance with the Fair Use doctrine of 17 U.S.C. § 107. If, however, you believe that your intellectual property rights have been violated, please contact the Consortium at

Subscribe to RSS - Northern Europe