Documenting the Impact of Conflict on Women Living in Internally Displaced Persons Camps in Sri Lanka: Some Ethical Considerations


Swiss, Shana, Peggy J. Jennings, K. G. K. Weerarathne, and Lori Heise. 2019. “Documenting the Impact of Conflict on Women Living in Internally Displaced Persons Camps in Sri Lanka: Some Ethical Considerations.” Health and Human Rights Journal 21 (1): 93-101.

Authors: Shana Swiss, Peggy J. Jennings, K. G. K. Weerarathne, Lori Heise


Women’s Rights International works with rural women and girls who are living in countries at war or with ongoing political violence. In 2005, The Asia Foundation invited Women’s Rights International to Sri Lanka to evaluate the feasibility of a random-sample survey of women to document the impact of the decades-long conflict. The significant imbalance in the risks-to-benefits ratio compelled us to recommend that random-sample surveys that included questions about sexual violence be avoided at that time, especially in the displaced persons areas. Instead, we recommended that three strategies be given priority in situations in which the risks for women are too great to justify a random-sample survey. First, maximize the use of existing information. Second, collect survey data only in partnership with a strong community organization that will use the data for direct tangible benefits. Third, share knowledge that will help build the capacity of local organizations to design surveys that address their priorities, and collect and use their own data following ethical guidelines that maximize the protection of individuals and the wider community. We implemented these recommendations in a partnership with a local organization with a strong history of advocating for women’s rights.

Topics: Armed Conflict, Displacement & Migration, IDPs, Refugee/IDP Camps, Conflict, Gender, Women, Girls, International Organizations, Rights, Women's Rights, Sexual Violence, Violence Regions: Asia, South Asia Countries: Sri Lanka

Year: 2019

Evaluating the Effectiveness of Sexual and Reproductive Health Services during Humanitarian Crises: A Systematic Review


Singh, Neha S., James Smith, Sarindi Aryasinghe, Rajat Khosla, Lale Say, and Karl Blanchet. 2018.  “Evaluating the Effectiveness of Sexual and Reproductive Health Services during Humanitarian Crises: A Systematic Review.” PLoS One 13 (7): 1-19.

Authors: Neha S. Singh, James Smith, Sarindi Aryasinghe, Rajat Khosla, Lale Say, Karl Blanchet


Background: An estimated 32 million women and girls of reproductive age living in emergency situations, all of whom require sexual and reproductive health (SRH) information and services. This systematic review assessed the effect of SRH interventions, including the Minimum Initial Service Package (MISP) on a range of health outcomes from the onset of emergencies.
Methods and Findings: We searched EMBASE, Global Health, MEDLINE and PsychINFO databases from January 1, 1980 to April 10, 2017. This review was registered with the PROSPERO database with identifier number CRD42017082102. We found 29 studies meet the inclusion criteria. We found high quality evidence to support the effectiveness of specific SRH interventions, such as home visits and peer-led educational and counselling, training of lower-level health care providers, community health workers (CHWs) to promote SRH services, a three-tiered network of health workers providing reproductive and maternal health services, integration of HIV and SRH services, and men’s discussion groups for reducing intimate partner violence. We found moderate quality evidence to support transport-based referral systems, community-based SRH education, CHW delivery of injectable contraceptives, wider literacy programmes, and birth preparedness interventions. No studies reported interventions related to fistulae, and only one study focused on abortion services.
Conclusions: Despite increased attention to SRH in humanitarian crises, the sector has made little progress in advancing the evidence base for the effectiveness of SRH interventions, including the MISP, in crisis settings. A greater quantity and quality of more timely research is needed to ascertain the effectiveness of delivering SRH interventions in a variety of humanitarian crises.


Topics: Armed Conflict, Domestic Violence, Education, Environment, Environmental Disasters, Gender, Women, Girls, Health, HIV/AIDS, Reproductive Health, Humanitarian Assistance Regions: Americas, Caribbean countries, Asia, South Asia, Southeast Asia Countries: Haiti, Pakistan, Philippines

Year: 2018

Response to and Reparations for Conflict-Related Sexual Violence in Iraq: The Case of Shi'a Turkmen Survivors in Tel Afar


Bor, Güley. 2019. Response to and Reparations for Conflict-Related Sexual Violence in Iraq: The Case of Shi'a Turkmen Survivors in Tel Afar. London: London School of Economics Middle East Centre.

Author: Güley Bor


Conflict-related sexual violence (CRSV) has been widespread in Iraq during the most recent Islamic State conflict. Thousands of Yazidi and hundreds of Shiʿa Turkmen women and girls were subjected to various forms of CRSV, including sexual slavery and forced marriages. Survivors need, demand and have a right to emergency responses as well as reparations. However, an overview of the situation of Shiʿa Turkmen survivors who returned to Tel Afar demonstrates how the Government of Iraq’s inaction, together with its discriminatory laws and practices, continue to fail women, and survivors in particular. Shiʿa Turkmen survivors must be provided with timely, comprehensive and survivor-centric medical, legal, economic services and mental health and psychosocial support (MHPSS), while community-oriented programmes must address the high levels of stigma to which survivors are subjected. To address the medical, psychological and social harms arising from CRSV, complex reparation programmes (both urgent and comprehensive) should be designed and implemented through effective survivor consultation, by ensuring that all survivors are included in their scope. While the recent reparations bill is a step in the right direction, Iraq is in urgent need for wider reform in addressing sexual violence and ensuring its non-repetition.

Topics: Conflict, Gender, Women, Girls, Governance, Health, Mental Health, Justice, Reparations, Sexual Violence, Sexual Slavery, SV against Women Regions: MENA, Asia, Middle East Countries: Iraq

Year: 2019

African Democracy and Development: Challenges for Post-Conflict African Nations


Veney, Cassandra Rachel, and Dick W. Simpson, ed. 2013. African Democracy and Development: Challenges for Post-Conflict African Nations. Lanham: Lexington Books.

Authors: Cassandra Veney, Dick Simpson


Various African nations have undergone conflict situations since they gained their independence. This book focuses on particular countries that have faced conflict (civil wars and genocide) and are now in the process of rebuilding their political, economic, social, and educational institutions. The countries that are addressed in the book include: Rwanda, Mozambique, Sierra Leone, Liberia, and the Democratic Republic of the Congo. In addition, there is a chapter that addresses the role of the African Diaspora in conflict and post-conflict countries that include Eritrea, Liberia, and Somalia. The book includes an examination of the various actors who are involved in post-conflict rebuilding and reconstruction that involves internal and external participants. For example, it is clear that the internal actors involve Africans themselves as ordinary citizens, members of local and national governments, and members of non-governmental organizations. This allows the reader to understand the agency and empowerment of Africans in post-conflict reconstruction. Various institutions are addressed within the context of the roles they play in establishing governance organizations such as the Truth and Reconciliation Commission in Sierra Leone, the African Union, chiefs in Liberia, and non-governmental organizations. Furthermore, the external actors who are involved in post-conflict reconstruction are examined such as international non-governmental organizations and the African Diaspora. They both have their own constituents and agendas and can and do play a positive and negative role in post-conflict reconstruction. It is obvious that countries that are addressed in the book are in dire need of financial assistant to rebuild much needed infrastructure that was destroyed during the conflict. All of the countries covered in the book need schools, medical facilities, roads, bridges, airports, ports, and the government does not have the money to provide these. This is where the international non-governmental organizations and the African Diaspora play an important role. The chapters that address these issues are cognizant of their importance and at the same time, the authors realize that sovereignty can be undermined if Africans are not in the forefront of policy and decision making that will determine their future. There are chapters that provide a gendered analysis of post-conflict when it is appropriate. For example, it is clear that women, men, boys, and girls experienced conflict in different ways because of their gender. They all participated in the conflict in various ways. Consequently, the efforts at peace building are given a gendered analysis in terms of what has happened to women and girls in the demobilization and rehabilitation period including an excellent analysis of land reform in Rwanda and how that affects women and members of a certain ethnic group that are often overlooked in the examination of the 1994 genocide. In sum, this book provides a very good contribution to the literature on conflict and post-conflict African countries because of its depth and the vast topics it embraces. It provides an analysis of the internal and external actors, the role of gender in post-conflict decision making, and it provides the voices of ordinary Africans who were affected by the conflict, and who are determined to live productive lives. (Summary from Google Books)
Table of Contents:
1. No Justice, No Peace: The Elusive Search for Justice and Reconciliation in Sierra Leone
Sylvia Macauley
2. The Role of Ex-Combatants in Mozambique
Jessica Schafer
3. Memory Controversies in Post-genocide Rwanda: Implications for Peacebuilding
Elisabeth King
4. Land Reform, Social Justice, and Reconstruction: Challenges for Post-genocide Rwanda
Helen Hintjens
5. Elections as a Stress Test of Democratization in Societies: A Comparison of Liberia, Sierra Leone, and the Democratic Republic of the Congo
John Yoder
6. Partners or Adversaries?: NGOs and the State in Postwar Sierra Leone
Fredline A.O. M'Cormack-Hale
7. Chieftancy and Reconstruction in Sierra Leone
Arthur Abraham
8. The Role of African Diasporas in Reconstruction
Paul Tiyambe Zeleza
9. The Role of the African Union in Reconstruction in Africa
Thomas Kwasi Tieku
10. Governance Challenges in Sierra Leone
Osman Gbla
11. Challenges of Governance Reform in Liberia
Amos Sawyer
12. Achieving Development and Democracy
Dick Simpson


Topics: Armed Conflict, Civil Wars, Combatants, DDR, Gender, Gender Analysis, Girls, Women, Genocide, Governance, Infrastructure, International Organizations, Justice, NGOs, Peacebuilding, Post-Conflict, Post-Conflict Reconstruction Regions: Africa, Central Africa, East Africa, Southern Africa, West Africa Countries: Democratic Republic of the Congo, Eritrea, Liberia, Mozambique, Rwanda, Sierra Leone, Somalia

Year: 2013

Legacies of Violence and the Unfinished Past: Women in Post-Demobilization Colombia and Guatemala


Tarnaala, Elisa. 2019. “Legacies of Violence and the Unfinished Past: Women in Post-Demobilization Colombia and Guatemala.” Peacebuilding 7 (1): 103–17.

Author: Elisa Tarnaala


This article examines the historically grounded social acceptance of impunity and the role of unwanted actors in peace and transitional processes. The article argues from a post-demobilization violence perspective that counter-democratic developments, which have historical and global roots, condition peacebuilding and impose important limits on the deepening of inclusion. In Colombia and Guatemala, internationally backed peacebuilding activities occurred in the same regions where the local authorities continued their partnership with criminal and authoritarian actors. Thus, parallel to the shift towards greater political and economic stability at the national level, attacks against human rights activists and environmental activists, intra-community violence, violence against women, prostitution and the trafficking of girls continued at the local level and in some areas increased.

Keywords: Colombia, Guatemala, demobilization, women, violence, historical legacies

Topics: DDR, Democracy / Democratization, Gender, Women, Girls, Gender-Based Violence, Justice, Impunity, Transitional Justice, Peacebuilding, Trafficking, Human Trafficking, Violence Regions: Americas, Central America, South America Countries: Colombia, Guatemala

Year: 2019

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

Buried in the Heart: Women, Complex Victimhood and the War in Northern Uganda


Baines, Erin. 2018. Buried in the Heart: Women, Complex Victimhood and the War in Northern Uganda. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Author: Erin Baines


In Buried in the Heart, Erin Baines explores the political agency of women abducted as children by the Lord's Resistance Army in northern Uganda, forced to marry its commanders, and to bear their children. Introducing the concept of complex victimhood, she argues that abducted women were not passive victims, but navigated complex social and political worlds that were life inside the violent armed group. Exploring the life stories of thirty women, Baines considers the possibilities of storytelling to reclaim one's sense of self and relations to others, and to generate political judgement after mass violence. Buried in the Heart moves beyond victim and perpetrator frameworks prevalent in the field of transitional justice, shifting the attention to stories of living through mass violence and the possibilities of remaking communities after it. The book contributes to an overlooked aspect of international justice: women's political agency during wartime. (Summary from Cambridge University Press)

Topics: Armed Conflict, Gender, Women, Girls, Justice, Transitional Justice, Sexual Violence, SV against Women, Violence Regions: Africa, East Africa Countries: Uganda

Year: 2018

The Politics of Gender and Reconstruction in Afghanistan


United Nations Research Institute for Social Development (UNRISD). 2005. The Politics of Gender and Reconstruction in Afghanistan. Geneva: United Nations. 

Author: Deniz Kandiyoti


“The central objective of this paper is to put the discussion of women’s rights in Afghanistan in the context of the multiple transitions entailed by the process of post-conflict reconstruction: a security transition (from war to peace), a political transition (to the formation of a legitimate and effective state) and a socioeconomic transition (from a “conflict” economy to sustainable growth). These transformations do not occur in a social vacuum but build upon existing societal arrangements that condition and limit the range of available opportunities.

The first section contextualizes current attempts at securing women’s rights in the troubled history of state-building and state-society relations in Afghanistan. The latter were marked by tensions between a rentier state bolstered by foreign subsidies, which had a relatively weak engagement with society, and a rural hinterland that both resisted the incursions of the state and attempted to represent tribal interests within it. Attempts at modernization, including the expansion of women’s rights, were instigated by a male state elite whose bids to centralize power were thwarted at various junctures. The issue of women’s rights was used as a bargaining counter in contests between social forces whose geopolitical entanglements produced sharp swings of the pendulum between extremes such as the Soviet backed socialist experiment under the People’s Democratic Party of Afghanistan (PDPA) and the Islamist policies of the Pakistani-backed Taliban. However, in a context where the state’s interface with local communities, whether in terms of the legal framework, revenue collection or service delivery, was always limited, attempts to analyse women’s rights with reference only to government policies suffer from serious shortcomings. It is, rather, to the profound transformations brought about by years of protracted conflict that one must look for a better appraisal of obstacles to and opportunities for more genderequitable development in Afghanistan.

The second section discusses the implications of the far-reaching changes in social relations brought about by years of war and displacement following the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan. A predominantly rural country whose population achieved relatively self-sufficient livelihoods was transformed into a fragmented polity where a significant proportion of the economy is based on illicit, criminalized networks of trade in drugs (opium poppy, in particular) and commodities such as timber and emeralds, smuggling of goods and human trafficking. The central argument put forward in this section is that routine violations of women’s rights in Afghanistan are determined by analytically distinct but overlapping and mutually reinforcing sets of influences: the dynamics of gendered disadvantage, the erosion of local livelihoods and growing poverty, the criminalization of the economy, and insecurity due to the predations of armed groups and factions. Particular combinations of new pressures (such as poverty, indebtedness and predation by local strongmen) and existing practices (such as the early marriage of girls against the payment of brideprice) create outcomes that may easily be misidentified as unmediated expressions of local “culture”, thus detracting critical attention from the full nexus of influences that deepen the vulnerability of girls and women.

The third section focuses on processes of institutional development and reform since the Bonn Agreement in 2001.The national machinery set up for the advancement of women consists of: the Ministry of Women’s Affairs (MOWA); the Office of the State Minister for Women (OSMOW), set up to provide policy guidance with particular reference to legislative and judicial reform processes; the Afghanistan Independent Human Rights Commission (AIHRC), tasked with the advancement of women’s rights under one of its five programme areas; and the Gender Advisory Group (GAG), a donor-government co-ordination body that assists in formulating a national framework and budget for gender mainstreaming. The most tangible gains so far have been achieved in the area of legal rights, which were enshrined in the new Constitution of January 2004 and provide legal guarantees for women’s equality as citizens and for their political representation. Many unresolved questions remain concerning the respective roles of Islamic and tribal laws and the stipulations of international treaties to which the government is a signatory (such as the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women/CEDAW which was ratified without reservations in March 2003). Without a process of consensus-building through political normalization and reconciliation, the risk that women’s rights will be held hostage to factional politics remains high. The expansion of women’s formal rights cannot, in any case, translate into substantive benefits in the absence of security and the rule of law. Moreover, women’s formal rights to civic participation may have limited impact in a context where they remain wards of their households and communities and where their most basic entitlements to education and health continue to be denied.

The conclusion draws attention to crippling disjunctures between different facets of post-conflict transition. Legal and governance reforms have advanced at a faster pace than has been achieved in the security sector or the transition to sustainable livelihoods. There is also a disjuncture between, on the one hand, the time frames adopted and outputs expected by international actors driving the women’s rights agenda, and on the other, the length of time required for non-cosmetic changes in societal relations to develop as a result of peace-building. Since the issue of women’s rights continues to occupy a highly politicized and sensitive place in the struggles between contending political factions in Afghanistan, this disjuncture may itself produce unintended effects, with disempowering consequences for women.” (Kandiyoti 2005, vi)

Topics: Conflict, Displacement & Migration, Economies, Poverty, Gender, Women, Girls, Gendered Power Relations, Livelihoods, Military Forces & Armed Groups, Peace and Security, Post-Conflict, Post-Conflict Reconstruction, Rights, Women's Rights, Security Regions: Asia, South Asia Countries: Afghanistan

Year: 2005

What are the Opportunities to Promote Gender Equity and Equality in Conflict-Affected and Fragile States? Insights from a Review of Evidence


O'Connell, Helen. 2011. "What are the Opportunities to Promote Gender Equity and Equality in Conflict-Affected and Fragile States? Insights from a Review of Evidence." Gender and Development 19 (3): 455-66.

Author: Helen O'Connell


This article draws on a study which reviewed current evidence and lessons on how gender equality can be effectively strengthened in the context of conflict-affected and fragile states. The study looked at women's political and economic empowerment and women and girls’ access to quality services. State-building in conflict-affected and fragile contexts has been widely regarded as an opportunity for securing greater gender equity and equality. While there has been some success in relation to women's participation in elections and formal politics and engagement in small-scale economic enterprise, inequitable gender power relations within the household and wider society have not been considered or understood, and thus opportunities have been lost.

Keywords: conflict, fragile states, gender equity, gender equality, empowerment, statebuilding, peacebuilding, Rights

Topics: Economies, Conflict, Gender, Women, Girls, Gendered Power Relations, Gender Equality/Inequality, Gender Equity, Households, Livelihoods, Post-Conflict, Political Participation

Year: 2011

Abortion and Reproductive Rights in the Women, Peace and Security Agenda


Pierson, Claire, and Jennifer Thomson. 2018. "Abortion and Reproductive Rights in the Women, Peace and Security Agenda." Women, Peace and Security Working Paper Series, Centre for Women Peace and Security, London School of Economics and Political Science, London, UK. 

Authors: Claire Pierson, Jennifer Thomson


Conflict continues to affect the lives of women globally. A record number of people are currently facing displacement due to conflict and persecution (65 million in 2017, approximately half of whom are women and girls).1  An understanding of the disproportionate effect of conflict on women and girls has been enhanced through the UN Security Council Resolutions on Women, Peace and Security (WPS). While women and girls experience many of the same harms as men and boys, they may also have specific sexual and reproductive health needs which are often unmet in, and exacerbated by, crisis situations.

Topics: Conflict, Displacement & Migration, Gender, Women, Girls, Health, Reproductive Health, UN Security Council Resolutions on WPS

Year: 2018


© 2023 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 - Girls