Brave warriors, Unfinished Revolutions: Political Subjectivities of Women Combatants in East Timor


Siapno, Jacqueline. 2020. "Brave Warriors, Unfinished Revolutions: Political Subjectivities of Women Combatants in East Timor." In Women Warriors in Southeast Asia, edited by Vina Lanzona and Frederik Rettig, 246-63. New York: Routledge. 

Author: Jacqueline Siapno


This chapter is an ethnography of institutions (military and police) and an examination of the DDR (Demobilisation, Disarmament, and Reintegration) and SSR (Security Sector Reform) processes in post-war Timor-Leste, focusing in particular on the situation of women in the National Police Force and the National Defense Force. The methodology includes fieldwork and oral interviews and public discussion presenting research findings to the hierarchy of justice, security, and defense institutions in East Timor and linking it to public policy on engendering security sector reform and corruption in the public service. The chapter includes interviews articulating the voices of women who fought in the anti-colonial resistance, their subsequent disillusionment, strategies for survival, their reflections on the unfinished if not betrayed revolution, but at the same time, the continuing pursuit of the ideals of justice, equality, independence, and healing from the war and from the life-space of militarised masculinities.

Topics: Combatants, Female Combatants, DDR, Gender, Masculinity/ies, Peace and Security, Post-Conflict, Security Sector Reform Regions: Oceania Countries: Timor-Leste

Year: 2020

The Aftermath for Women Warriors: Cambodia and East Timor


Blackburn, Susan. 2020. "The Aftermath for Women Warriors: Cambodia and East Timor." In Women Warriors in Southeast Asia, edited by Vina Lanzona and Frederik Rettig, 229-45. New York: Routledge.

Author: Susan Blackburn


This chapter examines what happens to women combatants at the end of armed conflicts, taking case studies from research in Cambodia and East Timor in 2005–2006. The evidence shows that the fate of women ex-combatants depends in part on the nature of the conflict and which side women fought on. The chapter investigates how the process known as disarmament, demobilisation and reintegration (DDR) of former combatants was conducted in these two countries, in light of the United Nations resolution recommending gender awareness in DDR. Using the two countries as examples, the chapter notes the difficulties in giving due recognition to female ex-combatants.

Topics: Armed Conflict, Combatants, Female Combatants, DDR, Conflict, International Organizations, Post-Conflict, UN Security Council Resolutions on WPS Regions: Asia, Southeast Asia, Oceania Countries: Cambodia, Timor-Leste

Year: 2020

Female Combatants and the Post-Conflict Process in Sierra Leone


Cullen, Laura C. 2020. "Female Combatants and the Post-Conflict Process in Sierra Leone." Journal of International Women's Studies 21 (2): 114-25.

Author: Laura C. Cullen


Women and girls had a specific and gendered experience of the civil war in Sierra Leone. They filled the role of combatants, ‘bush wives’, child soldiers, and sexual slaves. As a result of these roles, women are often described as having dual identities of both perpetrators and victims of violence. This duality resulted in the complex question of how to help these women both reintegrate into society and also address the crimes which they are alleged to have committed during the war. In this paper, I argue that these women and girls should be treated as victims due to the fact that their crimes were committed under coercion. I investigate the disarmament, demobilization and reintegration (DDR) process, performing a critique of its gendered assumptions and its inability to provide adequate assistance to females coerced into combat. I perform a critical analysis of the formation and efficacy of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC). I investigate the Special Court’s treatment of the women and girls who were victims coerced into war and potentially held responsible as if they were perpetrators. In doing so, critical deconstruction of the treatment of these women highlights both the hybrid court’s successes and failures in advocating for these women. Throughout the paper, I explore the question of how the post-conflict reconstruction process should treat women and girls, who are victims but who have discursively been positioned also as perpetrators.

Keywords: female combatants, women combatants, Special Court for Sierra Leone, bush wives, DDR, child soldiers, post-conflict resolutions, international criminal justice, hybrid courts, gendered assumptions in the post-conflict process

Topics: Armed Conflict, Civil Wars, Combatants, Child Soldiers, Female Combatants, DDR, Gender, Women, Girls, Justice, International Tribunals & Special Courts, TRCs, Post-Conflict, Post-Conflict Reconstruction, Sexual Violence, Sexual Slavery Regions: Africa, West Africa Countries: Sierra Leone

Year: 2020

Female Combatants in Postconflict Processes: Understanding the Roots of Exclusion


Henshaw, Alexis Leanna. 2020. "Female Combatants in Postconflict Settings: Understanding the Roots of Exclusion." Journal of Global Security Studies 5 (1): 63-79. 

Author: Alexis Leanna Henshaw


Research on contemporary internal armed conflicts has consistently shown that women are active in most armed insurgencies, in groups with varied ideologies, and in every region of the world. However, scholarship from feminist security studies shows that, not only are women still generally underrepresented in peace processes, but women affiliated with rebel groups in particular are more likely to be excluded from disarmament, demobilization, and reintegration (DDR) efforts. Closing this gap is a necessary next step for improving the security of women. This article draws on feminist theory and feminist security studies literature to highlight four factors that contribute to the exclusion of insurgent women from DDR efforts: attributions of agency, gendered hierarchy within groups, the tendency to collapse complex intersectionalities, and the pressure for patriarchal reordering after conflict. Drawing on selected cases, I illustrate each of these factors at work and discuss the implications for female ex-combatants, policy-makers, and scholars.

Keywords: gender, DDR, civil conflict, feminist security studies

Topics: Armed Conflict, Combatants, Female Combatants, DDR, Feminisms, Gender, Women, Gender Roles, Gendered Power Relations, Patriarchy, Gender Hierarchies, Military Forces & Armed Groups, Peace and Security, Post-Conflict, Peace Processes, Security

Year: 2020

Las Farianas: Reintegration of Former Female FARC Fighters as a Driver for Peace in Colombia


Barrios Sabogal, Laura Camila, and Solveig Richter. 2019. Las Farianas: Reintegration of Former Female FARC Fighters as a Driver for Peace in Colombia. 78. Universidad Nacional de Colombia, Bogotá. 

Authors: Barrios Sabogal, Laura Camila, Solveig Richter


The 2016 peace agreement includes comprehensive prescriptions for the so-called "reincorporation" of former combatants into the social, economic, and political life of Colombia. However, the literature is somewhat skeptical regarding the reintegration of female fighters, since they are usually either neglected or are facing intense stigmatization by the society. Nevertheless, based on empirical data from field research in 2018, we argue that both former FARC ex-combatants and conflict-affected communities largely support the reintegration process. This acceptance offers not only prospects for peace but a unique opportunity to promote peace in the traditional Colombian society. 

El acuerdo de paz de 2016 incluye disposiciones integrales para la llamada "reincorporación" de excombatientes en la vida social, económica y política de Colombia. Sin embargo, la literatura es bastante escéptica con respecto a la reintegración de las excombatientes, pues generalmente son excluidas o enfrentan una fuerte estigmatización por parte de la sociedad. Ahora bien, con base en datos empíricos de la investigación de campo realizada en 2018, encontramos que tanto los excombatientes de las FARC como las comunidades afectadas por el conflicto apoyan en gran medida el proceso de reintegración. Esto ofrece no solo perspectivas de paz, sino también una oportunidad única para promover la igualdad de género en la sociedad tradicional colombiana.

Keywords: Colombia, FARC, DDR, reintegration, gender, former female FARC combatants, Acuerdo de paz, reintegración, gênero, mujeres excombatientes de las FARC, peace agreement

Topics: Combatants, Female Combatants, DDR, Gender, Women, Governance, Livelihoods, Post-Conflict, Peacebuilding, Political Participation, Peace Processes Regions: Americas, South America Countries: Colombia

Year: 2019

Leading the Operationalisation of WPS


Hutchinson, Susan. 2018. "Leading the Operationalisation of WPS." Security Challenges 14 (2): 124-43.

Author: Susan Hutchinson


"This paper considers how an intervening security force can implement the relevant components of the suite of United Nations Security Council resolutions on Women, Peace and Security (WPS). The analytical framework of the paper is a generic operational cycle comprised of preplanning, planning, conduct, and transition. Specific tasks identified in the resolutions are organised in this generic operational cycle. The tasks are those commonly led by security forces, or directed by government, and include: conflict analysis or intelligence; deliberate planning; force structure; population protection; female engagement; support to the rule of law; security sector reform; and disarmament, demobilisation and reintegration. This paper focuses on the experiences of the Australian Defence Force, with additional examples from militaries of Canada, Ireland, Sweden and the United States as well as organisational experiences from NATO and the United Nations. The paper draws on operations including, but not limited to, in Afghanistan, Rwanda, Yugoslavia and East Timor. Overall, the paper makes a unique contribution to the military operationalisation of the WPS agenda" (Hutchinson 2018, 124).

Topics: Armed Conflict, DDR, Gender, Women, Governance, International Organizations, Military Forces & Armed Groups, Militaries, Security, Security Sector Reform, UN Security Council Resolutions on WPS Regions: Africa, Central Africa, East Africa, Americas, North America, Asia, South Asia, Europe, Balkans, Nordic states, Northern Europe, Western Europe, Oceania Countries: Afghanistan, Australia, Canada, Ireland, Rwanda, Sweden, Timor-Leste, United States of America, Yugoslavia (former)

Year: 2018

Quantifying the Impact of Women’s Participation in Post-Conflict Economic Recovery


Justino, Patricia, Ivan Cardona, Rebecca Mitchell. and Catherine Müller. 2012. "Quantifying the Impact of Women’s Participation in Post-Conflict Economic Recovery." HiCN Working Paper 131, Brighton: Institute of Development Studies. 

Authors: Patricia Justino, Ivan Cardona, Rebecca Mitchell, Catherine Müller


"The main aim of this report is to analyse how changes in the roles and activities of women during episodes of violent conflict may shape their contribution to post-conflict economic recovery and sustainable peace. The report poses two important questions for which limited evidence is to date available in the academic literature on violent conflict or in policy programming in post-conflict contexts:

1. How does violent conflict change the roles that women take on within their households and communities?
2. How do changes in female roles during conflict affect women‘s own status after the conflict, and the capacity of households and communities to recover from the conflict? 

In order to address these questions, the report reviews existing knowledge and provides new empirical evidence on the nature and extent of changes in women‘s roles and activities as a result of their exposure to violent conflict and the impact of these changes on post-conflict economic recovery at the household and community levels. The purpose of this empirical analysis is to provide a better understanding of (i) how changes in women‘s roles and activities may contribute towards processes of economic recovery; (ii) whether existing interventions are able to support these new roles (if positive) or to help women overcome negative outcomes; and (iii) what interventions the international community and local governments need to encourage in order to support the role of women in economic recovery and peacebuilding processes. The research was based on a literature review and original comparative empirical analysis in six country case studies: Bosnia and Herzegovina, Colombia, Kosovo, Nepal, Tajikistan and Timor Leste. This analysis offers a first step towards the generation of rigorous evidence on the relationship between women‘s engagement in economic recovery and community stability in post-conflict countries. The results obtained must be interpreted with caution due to the simplistic nature of the analytical methods employed. Nonetheless, the empirical analysis points to a number of strong and suggestive trends and patterns, as follows:

  • Women participate more actively in labour markets during conflict. This result is consistent across the six case studies. However, despite increases in labour market participation, women often face substantial limitations in terms of access to employment, the types of employment available to them, and the levels of wages received. In addition, women‘s contribution to household economic security is overlooked in the post-conflict period: women tend to lose their jobs once the war is over and face pressures to return to traditional roles.
  • In general, vulnerability among women increases during conflict. This result is particularly significant for female-headed households. This is due to three main factors. The first is an increase in dependency rates during the conflict: households have more children to take care of (due to increases in fertility and in the number of orphans) and have more injured and incapacitated household members to support. The second is an increase in the labour market participation of women without any visible reduction in other obligations: women join formal and informal employment when male workers enlist in armed forces or are killed, injured, migrate or are abducted, in addition to their traditional household duties. The third is related to the type of jobs that women perform in contexts of violent conflict. These are typically low-paid, low-skilled jobs in the form of self-employment in informal activities or unpaid family labour. These new activities very seldom result in direct empowerment gains for women and may contribute further to their levels of vulnerability.
  • However, and against all odds, increases in the labour participation of women in conflict-affected areas are in some cases associated with increases in overall household and community welfare, when compared with households and communities in areas less affected by violence, and measured in terms of higher per capita consumption. This result is dependent on the type of work in which women engage: benefits are more significant when women are employed in better paid jobs. Remarkably, positive household or community benefits were still observed in some case studies despite the low status jobs performed by women affected by conflict, and the fact that women earn on average less than men.

These results are not reflected in policy interventions currently being implemented in conflictaffected countries, including employment generation programmes, microfinance projects, community-driven development (CDD) initiatives, peacebuilding projects and disarmament, demobilisation and reintegration (DDR) programmes. Despite the potentially important peace dividends of more systematic integration of women in economic recovery and peacebuilding initiatives, of more meaningful employment for women and of measures that improve women‘s power relations within the household and in their communities, current policy programming in conflict-affected countries continues to prioritise the role of men in the achievement of peace, security and economic stability. Women remain outside mainstream peacebuilding and economic recovery programmes.

This situation may be partially due to the lack of rigorous enough evidence on the roles played by women in the economic security of their households through periods of violence, and in contributing positively to the economic recovery of communities affected by armed conflict. This project contributes, we expect, to the improvement of this evidence basis. The evidence discussed in this report suggests very strongly that post-conflict recovery interventions should support much more systematically women‘s engagement in economic reconstruction of postconflict societies, given the large yet unexploited benefits of women‘s involvement in household and community-level recovery processes” (Justino et al 2012, 6-7).

Topics: Armed Conflict, DDR, Economies, Conflict, Gender, Women, Gender Roles, Gendered Power Relations, Gender Equality/Inequality, Households, International Organizations, Livelihoods, Post-Conflict, Post-Conflict Reconstruction, Peacebuilding, Peace Processes, UN Security Council Resolutions on WPS, UNSCR 1325, Violence

Year: 2012

Peacebuilding Measures and the Transformation of Masculinities: Looking at Liberia and Uganda


Messerschmidt, Maike, and Hendrik Quest. 2020. “Peacebuilding Measures and the Transformation of Masculinities: Looking at Liberia and Uganda.” In Gender Roles in Peace and Security: Prevent, Protect, Participate, edited by Manuela Scheuermann and Anja Zürn, 79–100. Cham: Springer.

Authors: Maike Messerschmidt, Hendrik Quest


Messerschmidt and Quest trace the potential for transformation of violence-centred masculinities in Liberia and Uganda as a result of post-conflict peacebuilding. First, they suggest a practice-theoretical framework that enables them to distinguish between violent and non-violent configurations of masculinity at different analytical levels. They then scrutinise disarmament, demobilisation and reintegration (DDR), security sector reforms (SSR) and transitional justice in Liberia and Uganda to assess their potential to transform violence-centred masculinities. In both cases, they see good reason to assume that peacebuilding measures have contributed to the transformation of masculinities, albeit more profoundly so in Liberia than in Uganda. By identifying relevant practices in all three programmes, they contribute to both the academic and practical knowledge concerning post-conflict peacebuilding measures.

Topics: DDR, Gender, Masculinity/ies, Justice, Transitional Justice, Peacebuilding, Post-Conflict, Security Sector Reform, Violence Regions: Africa, East Africa, West Africa Countries: Liberia, Uganda

Year: 2020

The Palgrave International Handbook of Gender and the Military


Woodward, Rachel, and Claire Duncanson, eds. 2017. The Palgrave International Handbook of Gender and the Military. London: Palgrave Macmillan.

Authors: Rachel Woodward, Claire Duncanson


The Palgrave International Handbook of Gender and the Military provides a comprehensive overview of the multiple ways in which gender and militaries connect.  International and multi-disciplinary in scope, this edited volume provides authoritative accounts of the many intersections through which militaries issues and military forces are shaped by gender.  The chapters provide detailed accounts of key issues, informed by examples from original research in a wealth of different national contexts.  This Handbook includes coverage of conceptual approaches to the study of gender and militaries, gender and the organisation of state military forces, gender as it pertains to military forces in action, transitions and transgressions within militaries, gender and non-state military forces, and gender in representations of military personnel and practices.  With contributions from a range of both established and early career scholars, The Palgrave International Handbook of Gender and the Military is an essential guide to current debates on gender and contemporary military issues. (Summary from Springer)
Table of Contents 
1. An Introduction to Gender and the Military
Rachel Woodward and Claire Duncanson
2. Liberal Feminists, Militaries and War 
Caroline Kennedy-Pipe
3. Anti-Militarist Feminist Approaches to Researching Gender and the Military 
Claire Duncanson
4. Critical Military Studies as Method: An Approach to Studying Gender and the Military 
Victoria M. Basham and Sarah Bulmer
5. Quantitative Approaches to Researching Gender and Militaries 
Lana Obradovic
6. Qualitative Approaches to Researching Gender and the Military 
Lauren Greenwood
7. Gendered Organizational Dynamics in Military Contexts 
Helena Carreiras
8. Ethnicity and Gender in Militaries: An Intersectional Analysis 
Orna Sasson-Levy
9. Theorizing Military Masculinities and National Identities: The Norwegian Experience 
Nina Rones and Kari Fasting
10. Sexualities in State Militaries 
Sarah Bulmer
11. Transgender Military Service: A Snapshot in Time 
M. Sheridan Embser-Herbert
12. The Civilian Wives of Military Personnel: Mobile Subjects or Agents of Militarisation? 
Alexandra Hyde
13. Military Families: Life, Social Organization and Remote Basing Experiences for Brazilian Military Families 
Cristina Rodrigues da Silva
14. Domestic Abuse and the Reproduction of the Idealised ‘Military Wife’ 
Harriet Gray
15. Violence in the Military and Relations Among Men: Military Masculinities and ‘Rape Prone Cultures’ 
Ben Wadham
16. Female Military Veterans with Disabilities 
Rachel Dekel and Miriam Goldberg
17. Gender, Mental Health and the Military 
Hilary Cornish
18. Gendered Military Identities: Army Deserters in Exile 
Godfrey Maringira
19. Gender and Close Combat Roles 
Anthony King
20. Gender and Counterinsurgency 
Synne L. Dyvik
21. Gender, Humanitarianism and the Military 
Ryerson Christie
22. Transitions and Transformation in Gender Relations in the South African Military: From Support in Warfare to Valued Peacekeepers 
Lindy Heinecken
23. Military Markets, Masculinities and the Global Political Economy of the Everyday: Understanding Military Outsourcing as Gendered and Racialised 
Amanda Chisholm and Saskia Stachowitsch
24. Gender, Militaries and Security Sector Reform 
Megan Bastick
25. Gender Mainstreaming and Integration in the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation 
Matthew Hurley
26. Gender and Terrorist Movements 
Katherine E. Brown
27. Gender Dynamics in Rebel Groups 
Zoe Marks
28. Women in Non-State Armed Groups after War: The (Non)Evolution of Disarmament, Demobilization and Reintegration 
Christopher Hills and Megan MacKenzie
29. Gender and Visual Representations of Women Combatants 
Chava Brownfield-Stein
30. Military Women in Cinema: War Stories and Future Worlds 
Yvonne Tasker
31. (Re)Producing an (Anti)Military Masculinity: Popular Culture Representations of Gender and Military Dissent in the Figure of Ron Kovic 
Joanna Tidy
32. Gender and Military Memoirs 
Rachel Woodward, Claire Duncanson and K. Neil Jenkings
33. Gendered Representations of Soldier Deaths 
Katharine M. Millar

Topics: Armed Conflict, Combatants, DDR, Domestic Violence, Ethnicity, Feminisms, Gender, Masculinity/ies, Gender Mainstreaming, Health, Mental Health, International Organizations, Intersectionality, Military Forces & Armed Groups, Militaries, Militarism, Militarization, Non-State Armed Groups, Political Economies, Race, Peacekeeping, Security Sector Reform, Sexuality, Sexual Violence, Rape

Year: 2017

Frustrated and Confused: Mapping the Socio-political Struggles of Female Ex-combatants in Nepal


Upreti, Bishnu, Sharmila Shivakoti, and Kohinoor Bharati. 2018. "Frustrated and Confused: Mapping the Socio-political Struggles of Female Ex-combatants in Nepal." Journal of International Women's Studies 19 (4): 32-52.

Authors: Bishnu Upreti, Sharmila Shivakoti, Kohinoor Bharati


The Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist) declared an armed insurrection against the State in February 1996; they began to attack police posts and gradually the insurrection was sparked all over the country, lasting for ten years. Consequently, it caused 17,886 deaths, 79,571 displacements, 1,530 disappearance, 3,142 abductions, 8,935 disabilities, and left 620 children orphaned (MoPR 2016). In the armed conflict 20 percent of Maoist combatants were women. After several rounds of negotiations, the armed conflict ended in November 2006, with the signing of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA) between the Government of Nepal and the then Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist) that demanded disarmament, demobilization and reintegration (DDR) of the Maoist ex-combatants. Among the ex-combatants the DDR process for reintegrating female ex-combatants was more complicated. This paper examines the DDR process with a specific focus on ex-combatants. Focus group interviews, key informant interviews, roundtable discussions, and direct interviews with the female- ex-combatants were the methods used in collecting data, in addition to secondary sources. This paper argues that the DDR was not only contested, but also procedurally flawed, and therefore not able to produce the desired result. Because the DDR was a complex, socio-psychol ogi cal and politico-economic process and required sensitive handling, key Nepali actors and international supporters failed to properly deal with the DDR. The DDR process was largely gender-blind and therefore, the female ex-combatants suffered more in terms of their social relations, specific needs and achieving livelihood security. The approach of United Mission to Nepal (UNMIN) was one of the reasons; consequently, its engagement was terminated without completing the DDR process mainly because it failed to internalize gender sensitivity and local complexity.

Keywords: armed-conflict, disarmament, demobilization, ex-combatants, Maoist, peace, reintegration, Nepal armed conflict

Topics: Armed Conflict, Combatants, Female Combatants, DDR, Gender, Livelihoods, Military Forces & Armed Groups, Security Regions: Asia, South Asia Countries: Nepal

Year: 2018


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