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Armed Conflict

The Impact of Women Legislators on Humanitarian Military Interventions


Shea, Patrick E., and Charlotte Christian. 2016. “The Impact of Women Legislators on Humanitarian Military Interventions.” Journal of Conflict Resolution 1-31. 

Authors: Patrick E. Shea, Charlotte Christian


In this article, we contend that the current gender and conflict literature ignores the context of military decisions and thus underestimates the support of women for certain types of military interventions. We argue that the issues related to humanitarian crises are likely to provoke support from women. Consequently, as more women enter elected positions in state legislatures, the more likely a state will become involved in a humanitarian military intervention. To test our argument, we compile a data set of humanitarian military interventions and women legislators from 1946 to 2003. A series of estimation approaches and robustness tests support our assertion that more women legislators impact the likelihood that a state will become involved in a humanitarian military intervention. Our research has specific implications on the role of gender in conflict processes and more general implications on the connection between domestic political processes and foreign policy decision making.

Keywords: humanitarian intervention, domestic politics, foreign policy, military intervention

Topics: Armed Conflict, Gender, Women, Governance, Political Participation

Year: 2016

Gender in Inter-State Water Conflicts


Von Lossow, Tobias. 2015. “Gender in Inter-State Water Conflicts.” Peace Review: A Journal of Social Justice 27 (2): 196-201.

Author: Tobias Von Lossow


"In sum, gender aspects hardly play any role in inter-state water politics of conflict and cooperation. This has mainly to do with the topic of inter-state water conflicts touching on masculine dominated policy fields and discourses of: first, conflict, confrontation, and warfare; second, inter-state and regional politics, diplomacy and, cooperation; and, third, utilization of water, hydro- engineering, and construction. Nonetheless, on the level of concrete technical cooperation on the ground, some projects along transboundary water basins bring in gender aspects. But even these efforts are nearly exclusively donor- driven, mostly limited to simplistic statements and too rarely translate into concrete actions. All-in-all gender aspects are either not reflected at all in inter- state water politics or apply just as empty phrases in reports of the Western donor community without substantial effects for the people on spot. This is particularly problematic since large-scale projects with strong regional and local impact, for example mega-dams or large irrigation schemes, are often implemented in the context of such inter-state water conflicts with a complete lack of gender awareness. Inter-state water politics might even undermine local and national efforts towards gender sensitive politics.
"Against this background, two policy recommendations are central for promoting gender sensitivity. For one, gender urgently needs to figure in inter-state water politics at all stages of project planning, decision making, and impact assessment, given its immediate consequences for the local population. This also means that the classic imperative of enforcing local stakeholder participation needs to apply. For another, the Western donor community has to rethink its policymaking and its politics: empty gender phrases not materializing in substantial changes on the ground are counterproductive as this “checking the box” attitude wrongly pretends that gender is adequately addressed. As long as gender is absent in inter-state water politics, the mainstreaming efforts of Western donors will continue to be significantly hampered." (Von Lossow, 2015, p. 200-1)


Topics: Armed Conflict, Gender, Masculinity/ies, Gender Analysis, Infrastructure, Water & Sanitation, Security Regions: Africa, Asia, Middle East, South Asia

Year: 2015

Women, Violence, and Social Change in Northern Ireland and Chiapas: Societies Between Tradition and Transition


Hoewer, Melanie. 2013. “Women, Violence, and Social Change in Northern Ireland and Chiapas: Societies Between Tradition and Transition.” International Journal of Conflict and Violence 7 (2): 216–31.

Author: Melanie Hoewer


Violence against women occurs in peacetime, intensifies during wartime, and continues in the aftermath of armed conflict. Women sometimes make gains during conflict and their efforts to break the pattern of violence have led to a greater awareness of gender-based violence. However, a lack of acknowledgement of transformations in gender identity at the macro-level during peace processes may create conflict in intimate partnerships. This study brings to light the complexity of changes occurring during peace processes in a multi-level analysis of women’s perceptions and positioning towards the state, their community, and their intimate partnership. This comparative analysis of fifty-seven female activists’ narratives from Chiapas and Northern Ireland demonstrates how a one-dimensional peace process (Northern Ireland) can limit the space for addressing women’s concerns, while peace processes that transcend the ethno- national dimension of conflict (Chiapas) can open a dialogue on issues of contention in male-female relationships.

Topics: Armed Conflict, Ethnic/Communal Wars, National Liberation Wars, Combatants, Domestic Violence, Ethnicity, Gender, Women, Men, Gender Roles, Gender-Based Violence, Gendered Power Relations, Gender Hierarchies, Gender Equality/Inequality, Governance, Post-conflict Governance, Military Forces & Armed Groups, Militaries, Paramilitaries, Non-state armed groups, Peacebuilding, Peace Processes, Post-Conflict, Post-Conflict Reconstruction, Violence Regions: Americas, North America, Europe, Northern Europe Countries: Mexico, United Kingdom

Year: 2013

Foreign Military Intervention and Women's Rights


Peksen, Dursun. 2001. “Foreign Military Intervention and Women’s Rights.” Journal of Peace Research 48 (4): 455-68. 

Author: Dursun Peksen


A large body of scholarly work has been devoted to the possible consequences of foreign military intervention for the target state. This literature, however, tends to be state-centric and mostly neglects the insight from gender-specific theoretical and empirical perspectives. The purpose of this article is to examine the extent to which military intervention affects women’s rights. It is argued that unilateral interventions are prone to diminishing women’s status by encouraging the persistence or creation of repressive regimes and contributing to political disorder in the target state. If the use of armed forces ever helps or causes no damage to women’s well-being, it will likely be during interventions led by intergovernmental organizations (IGOs). This is because IGO interventions are unlikely to protect or support an authoritarian, patriarchal political system. Furthermore, such multilateral missions will increase international awareness of women’s status along with other human rights issues in the target society, thereby creating more pressure on the government to enforce women’s rights. To empirically substantiate these arguments, three different indicators that tap socio-economic and political aspects of women’s status are used, including the indices of women’s economic, political, and social rights from the Cingranelli-Richards database. The results indicate that while women’s political and economic status suffer most during unilateral US interventions, IGO interventions are likely to have a positive influence on women’s political rights. Non-US unilateral interventions, on the other hand, are unlikely to cause any major change in women’s status. Finally, military interventions in general have no major statistically significant impact on women’s social rights.

Keywords: military conflicts, foreign military intervention, women's rights

Topics: Armed Conflict, Gender, Women, Gendered Power Relations, Patriarchy, Military Forces & Armed Groups, Militaries, Rights, Women's Rights Regions: Americas, North America Countries: United States of America

Year: 2001

Empowerment Boom or Bust? Assessing Women's Post-Conflict Empowerment Initiatives


MacKenzie, Megan. 2009. “Empowerment Boom or Bust? Assessing Women's Post-Conflict Empowerment Initiatives” Cambridge Review of International Affairs 22 (2): 199-215. 

Author: Megan MacKenzie


Over the past decade, the term ‘empowerment’ has been generously employed and woefully ill-defined. In particular, women’s empowerment has been embraced by such a vast number of development actors that it appears to be a unifying mission within development. Despite the boom in women’s empowerment initiatives, there remains little critical analysis of the use of empowerment in general, and the perceived success or failures of specific empowerment initiatives. Using the disarmament, demobilization and reintegration process in Sierra Leone as a case study, this paper examines how reintegration was described as a source of empowerment for women. Drawing from interviews and analysis of related policy discourses, it is argued that, rather than representing a radical shift in development approaches towards more inclusive and representative policies, empowerment projects are shaped by neoliberal ideas such as individualism, responsibility and economic order and carry implicit, gendered and disciplining messages about appropriate social behaviour.

Topics: Armed Conflict, DDR, Development, Gender, Women, Gender Roles Regions: Africa, West Africa Countries: Sierra Leone

Year: 2009

Assessing the Significance of Women in Combat Roles


Trisko Darden, Jessica. 2015. "Assessing the Significance of Women in Combat Roles." International Journal: Canada’s Journal Of Global Policy Analysis 70 (3): 454-462. 

Author: Jessica Trisko Darden


What should we know about the roles of women in armed conflicts? I review the existing literature on women’s roles in regular and irregular conflicts to identify gaps in our understanding of the significance of female combatants. I draw on contemporary and historical cases of women’s combat participation across world regions and, in so doing, I challenge existing assumptions about the limits of women’s participation in armed conflict. Examining women as a group and expecting conflict to affect this group in predictable and easily identifiable ways only reinforces existing assumptions about women and war. To understand the range of motivations underlying women’s decisions to fight or to not fight, we should give greater attention to opportunity structures and other social conditions rather than simply assuming that women have different incentives than men.

Keywords: gender, combat, conflict, militaries, security, war, women

Topics: Armed Conflict, Combatants, Female Combatants, Gender, Women, Military Forces & Armed Groups, Militaries, Security

Year: 2015

Prosecuting Gender-Based Persecution: the Islamic State at the ICC


Chertoff, Emily. 2017. “Prosecuting Gender-Based Persecution: the Islamic State at the ICC." Yale Law Journal 126 (4): 1050-117.

Author: Emily Chertoff


Reports suggest that Islamic State, the terrorist "caliphate," has enslaved and brutalized thousands of women from the Yazidi ethnic minority of Syria and Northern Iraq. International criminal law has a name for what Islamic State has done to these women: gender-based persecution. This crime, which appears in the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court (ICC), has only been charged once, and unsuccessfully, in the Court's two decades of existence. The case of the Yazidi women presents a promising opportunity to charge it again--and, potentially, to shift the lately unpromising trajectory of the Court, which has been weakened in recent months by a wave of defections by former member states. This Note uses heretofore unexamined jurisprudence of the ICC's Pre-Trial Chamber to elaborate--element by element--how the Prosecutor of the Court could charge gender-based persecution against members of Islamic State. I argue that the prosecution of Islamic State would not just vindicate the rights of Yazidi survivors of Islamic State violence. It would help to consolidate an international norm against gender-based persecution in armed conflict--a norm that, until now, international law has only incompletely realized. This Note argues that only by prosecuting the crime of gender-based persecution can international criminal law cognize violence, like the attacks on Yazidi women, that is motivated not just by race, ethnicity, or gender, but by the victims' intersecting gender and ethnic or racial identities. I conclude by reflecting on the role that a series of prosecutions against perpetrators of gender-based persecution might have in restoring the legitimacy of the ailing ICC.

Topics: Armed Conflict, Ethnicity, Women, Gender-Based Violence, International Law, International Criminal Law, Justice, International Tribunals & Special Courts, Race, Sexual Violence, Sexual Exploitation and Abuse, Sexual Slavery, Terrorism, Violence Regions: MENA, Asia, Middle East Countries: Iraq, Syria

Year: 2017

Anchors, Habitus, and Practices Besieged by War: Women and Gender in the Blockade of Leningrad


Hass, Jeffrey K. 2017. “Anchors, Habitus, and Practices Besieged by War: Women and Gender in the Blockade of Leningrad.” Sociological Forum32(2): 253-76.

Author: Jeffrey K. Hass


As war challenges survival and social relations, how do actors alter and adapt dispositions and practices? To explore this question, I investigate women's perceptions of normal relations, practices, status, and gendered self in an intense situation of wartime survival, the Blockade of Leningrad (1941–1944), an 872-day ordeal that demographically feminized the city. Using Blockade diaries for data on everyday life, perceptions, and practices, I show how women's gendered skills and habits of breadseeking and caregiving (finding scarce resources and providing aid) were key to survival and helped elevate their sense of status. Yet this did not entice rethinking “gender.” To explore status elevation and gender entrenchment, I build on Bourdieu's theory of habitus and fields to develop anchors: field entities with valence around which actors orient identities and practices. Anchors provide support for preexisting habitus and practices, and filter perceptions from new positions vis-à-vis fields and concrete relations. Essentialist identities and practices were reinforced through two processes involving anchors. New status was linked to “women's work” that aided survival of anchors (close others, but also factories and the city), reinforcing acceptance of gender positions. Women perceived that challenging gender relations and statuses could risk well-being of anchors, reconstructing gender essentialism.

Topics: Armed Conflict, Gender, Women, Gender Roles, Gendered Power Relations Regions: Asia, Europe Countries: Soviet Union (former)

Year: 2017

Death Does Not Become Her: An Examination of the Public Construction of Female American Soldiers as Liminal Figures


Millar, Katharine M. 2015. "Death Does Not Become Her: An Examination of the Public Construction of Female American Soldiers as Liminal Figure." Review of International Studies 41 (04): 757-79. doi: 10.1017/s0260210514000424.

Author: Katharine M. Millar


Since the invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq, over 150 female American military personnel have been killed, over 70 following hostile fire. Given Western society’s long-standing practice of reserving the conduct of collective violence to men, these very public deaths are difficult to encompass within the normative and ideological structures of the contemporary American political system. This study examines the ways in which the public duty to commemorate the heroism of soldiers – and the private desire to accurately remember daughters and wives – poses a significant challenge to coherent discursive representation. In doing so, the study employs hermeneutical interpretation to analyse public representations of female soldiers and their relation to death in US popular culture. These representations are examined via Judith Butler’s concept of grievability – the possibility of receiving recognition as a worthy life within the existing social imaginary. It is argued that female soldiers are grievable as both ‘good soldiers’ and ‘good women’, but not as ‘good female soldiers’. The unified subject position of ‘good female soldier’ is liminal, and thus rendered socially and politically unintelligible. The article concludes with an analysis of the implications of this liminality for collective mourning and the possibility of closure after trauma.


Topics: Armed Conflict, Combatants, Female Combatants, Gender, Women, Masculinity/ies, Gender Roles, Femininity/ies, Gendered Power Relations, Patriarchy, Military Forces & Armed Groups, Militaries, Militarism Regions: MENA, Americas, North America, Asia, Middle East, South Asia Countries: Afghanistan, Iraq, United States of America

Year: 2015

The "Double-Battle": Women Combatants and Their Embodied Experiences in War Zone


Harel-Shalev, Ayelet, and Shir Daphna-Tekoah. 2016. “The "Double-Battle": Women Combatants and Their Embodied Experiences in War Zones.” Critical Studies on Terrorism 9 (2): 312–33. doi:10.1080/17539153.2016.1178484.

Authors: Ayelet Harel-Shalev, Shir Daphna-Tekoah


This study contributes to the ongoing debate about women in combat by exploring women combatants’ experiences of war through interviews with women soldiers in the Israel Defense Forces who served as combatants or in combat-support roles in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip. The authors proffer that the bodily experiences of women combatants disturb conventional international relations and hegemonic masculine war metanarratives that either abstract or glorify combat. These otherwise silenced narratives reveal juxtapositions of feelings of competence and vulnerability and shed light on the women’s struggle for gender integration in the military. The authors conclude the article with a reflection on the challenges facing researchers investigating war and terrorism.

Topics: Armed Conflict, Combatants, Female Combatants, Military Forces & Armed Groups, Militaries Regions: Asia, Middle East Countries: Israel, Palestine / Occupied Palestinian Territories

Year: 2016


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