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Military Forces & Armed Groups

Gender and Jihad: Women from the Caucasus in the Syrian Conflict

Citation:

Kvakhadze, Aleksandre. 2020. “Gender and Jihad: Women from the Caucasus in the Syrian Conflict.” Perspectives on Terrorism 14 (2): 69-79.

Author: Aleksandre Kvakhadze

Abstract:

According to media reports, hundreds of women from the North Caucasian republics, Georgia and Azerbaijan have migrated to jihadi-controlled territories. This article has a threefold aim: to discuss the motivational features of female volunteers from the Caucasus region, to describe their functional role, and to explain their limited involvement in the hostilities. The findings indicate that the motivation for most women volunteers from the Caucasus has involved family relationships; further, rather than participating in combat, they have served in various supportive positions.

Topics: Armed Conflict, Combatants, Conflict, Gender, Military Forces & Armed Groups, Religion, Terrorism Regions: MENA, Asia, Middle East, Europe, South Caucasus Countries: Azerbaijan, Georgia, Syria

Year: 2020

A Revolution in the Binary? Gender and the Oxymoron of Revolutionary War in Cuba and Nicaragua

Citation:

Volo, Lorraine Bayard de. 2012. “A Revolution in the Binary? Gender and the Oxymoron of Revolutionary War in Cuba and Nicaragua.” Signs 37 (2): 413-39.

Author: Lorraine Bayard de Volo

Annotation:

The urgency posed by the U.S. “War on Terror” prompted a renewed surge in feminist analyses of war and security, with far-reaching implications for gendered approaches to political violence. The primary focus has been on the United States and its allies. Considerably less attention has been given to smaller nations of the global South, including revolutionary states that resist U.S. neoimperialism. Through the cases of Cuba and Nicaragua, this essay addresses this gap in the literature by training a gender lens on the ways in which the revolutions in smaller nations—first as guerrilla armies, then as revolutionary states—hailed a revolutionary public and discursively engaged with other states by means of certain gendered logics. Gendered analysis of such revolutionary logic is a relatively unexamined means to understand a fuller range of wars and security events. In turn, a focus on armed insurrection and security events of revolution also generates insight into gender relations and efforts at gender equality.

Topics: Gender, Gender Analysis, Military Forces & Armed Groups, Non-State Armed Groups, Security Regions: Americas, Caribbean countries, Central America Countries: Cuba, Nicaragua

Year: 2012

Sister Citizens: Women in Syrian Rebel Governance

Citation:

Gilbert, Victoria. 2020. “Sister Citizens: Women in Syrian Rebel Governance.” Politics & Gender, 1–28. doi:10.1017/S1743923X20000136.

Author: Victoria Gilbert

Abstract:

In the rich literature on women and conflict, many scholars have assumed that the outbreak of civil war suppresses women’s political involvement. However, during Syria’s civil war, there was significant subnational and temporal variation in the involvement of women in the institutions established by armed groups and civilians in rebel-held areas. Why were some Syrian women able to secure a place for themselves in insurgent governance? How were they able to influence the form of local institutions to secure a role for women? Bringing together the scholarship on social movements and rebel governance, this article argues that two factors determine whether women were able to mobilize politically during conflict: the organizational capacity of women and the strength and ideology of locally active armed groups. The article leverages data on local organizations and institutions in Syria, Syrian news sources, and correspondence with several women’s organizations operating in Syria in 2017. By doing so, this article strives to bring attention to the role of gender in the expanding literature on rebel governance. It also highlights the significance of armed groups’ ideologies, an aspect often dismissed in the literature in favor of a focus on material factors.

Keywords: gender, rebel, rebel governance, insurgent governance, civil war, conflict, institutions, Syria, conflict processes, comparative politics, women, middle east, institutional design

Topics: Armed Conflict, Civil Wars, Conflict, Gender, Women, Governance, Military Forces & Armed Groups, Non-State Armed Groups, Political Participation Regions: MENA, Asia, Middle East Countries: Syria

Year: 2020

Exploring Gender Norms in the Lebanese Internal Security Forces

Citation:

Rougvie, Kate. 2018. "Exploring Gender Norms in the Lebanese Internal Security Forces." Al-Raida Journal 42 (1): 6-19.

Abstract:

Feminist scholarship focusing on security, gender, and conflict indicates gender norms that privilege the masculine and inferiorize the feminine are particularly pronounced within militarized security institutions (Whitworth, 2004). The male-dominated security sector promotes a particular type of masculinity (Connell, 2005), which reinforces gender-blind security institutions (Bastick, n.d.; Valasek, 2008; Enloe, 1983; Enloe, 2007). In this article, I will explore the ways in which this dynamic is produced in the context of Lebanon. I will investigate how social constructions of gender are reinforced by, and shape the nature of Lebanon’s highly militarized police force, and the potential impact of this on its capacity to respond to gendered needs. I will begin by demonstrating the importance of gender perspectives to security theory and discourse. I will then explore the ways in which gender norms manifest in the militarized Internal Security Forces (ISF) and the reasons for, and the impact of this manifestation on their capacity to be a gender-responsive institution. Such an analysis will touch on the role of the police in preventing and responding to gender-based violence (GBV), and women’s participation in the ISF.

Topics: Feminisms, Gender, Women, Masculinity/ies, Gendered Discourses, Gender-Based Violence, Military Forces & Armed Groups, Militaries, Security Regions: MENA, Asia, Middle East Countries: Lebanon

Year: 2018

Fixing Gender: The Paradoxical Politics of Peacekeeper Training

Citation:

Holvikivi, Aiko. 2019. "Fixing Gender: The Paradoxical Politics of Peacekeeper Training." PhD diss., The London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE).

Author: Aiko Holvikivi

Abstract:

Over the past two decades, gender training for military and police peacekeepers has become institutionalised in the global governance of peace and security. Such training purports to respond to gendered harms previously ignored in, or actively caused by, peacekeeping operations. This evolving transnational practice involves the introduction of gender knowledge – indebted to feminist theorising and activism – into police and military organisations – commonly characterised as institutions of hegemonic masculinity. This thesis takes the tension between feminism and martial institutions as its point of departure to investigate what meaning the term gender acquires in training for uniformed peacekeepers, asking: What epistemic and political work does gender training do in martial institutions? Investigating the pedagogical practices of gender training through a multi-sited ethnography, I approach this question with the help of feminist, postcolonial, (and) queer epistemic perspectives. I conceptualise gender training as involving the production of knowledges around gender; knowledges which enable ways of being and acting in the world. I suggest that training practices often produce an understanding of gender that serves martial politics and reproduces colonial logics in the peacekeeping enterprise, thereby emptying the term of the transformative political hopes that feminist theorists typically invest in the concept. At the same time, I identify moments of tension, in which gender training appears to be destabilising hierarchical martial logics and engaging in subversive pedagogy. In sum, I argue that ambivalence is an integral feature of gender training, and locate political potential in the cultivation of resistant pedagogies, which exploit the margins of hegemonic discourses to engage in subversive strategies of destabilisation and delinking. This thesis provides an empirical contribution to an under-studied area of global governance, as well as forwarding feminist theorising on political strategies for engaging with and against institutions of state power.

Topics: Coloniality/Post-Coloniality, Feminisms, Gender, Masculinity/ies, Gendered Discourses, Governance, Military Forces & Armed Groups, Militaries, Peacekeeping

Year: 2019

Women on the Frontline: Rebel Group Ideology and Women’s Participation in Violent Rebellion

Citation:

Wood, Reed M., and Jakana L. Thomas. 2017. “Women on the Frontline: Rebel Group Ideology and Women’s Participation in Violent Rebellion.” Journal of Peace Research 54 (1): 31–46.

Authors: Reed M. Wood, Jakana L. Thomas

Abstract:

Despite the frequent participation of women in armed groups, few studies have sought to explain the variation in their roles across different rebellions. Herein, we investigate this variation. We argue that the political ideology a group adopts plays a central role in determining the extent of women’s participation, particularly their deployment in combat roles. Specifically, we link variations in women’s roles in armed groups to differences in beliefs about gender hierarchies and gender-based divisions of labor inherent in the specific ideologies the groups adopt. We evaluate hypotheses drawn from these arguments using a novel cross-sectional dataset on female combatants in a global sample of rebel organizations active between 1979 and 2009. We find that the presence of a Marxist-oriented ‘leftist’ ideology increases the prevalence of female fighters while Islamist ideologies exert the opposite effect. However, we find little evidence that nationalism exerts an independent influence on women’s combat roles. We also note a general inverse relationship between group religiosity and the prevalence of female fighters. Our analysis demonstrates that political ideology plays a central role in determining whether and to what extent resistance movements incorporate female fighters into their armed wings.

Keywords: female combatants, rebel ideology, rebellion

Topics: Armed Conflict, Combatants, Female Combatants, Gender, Women, Gender Roles, Gendered Power Relations, Gender Hierarchies, Military Forces & Armed Groups, Non-State Armed Groups, Rights, Religion

Year: 2017

Depicting Victims, Heroines, and Pawns in the Syrian Uprising

Citation:

Szanto, Edith. 2016. “Depicting Victims, Heroines, and Pawns in the Syrian Uprising.” Journal of Middle East Women’s Studies 12 (3): 306–22.

Author: Edith Szanto

Abstract:

During the onslaught of the Islamic caliphate on Kobanî, Syria, media outlets across the globe broadcast pictures of brave and often unveiled Kurdish women fighting the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIS), a quintessentially male force of destruction. The images of women fighting Islamist male aggressors aroused outrage, admiration, and pity among observers. But had all Kurdish fighters been male or had women fought for ISIS, viewers might have reacted differently. To examine some of the most widely disseminated gendered pictures and videos of the Syrian uprising in the media, this article draws on Mohja Kahf’s three categories, which typify how Muslim women, Arab women, or both are perceived by the Anglophone reading and viewing public: the first is victims; the second, escapees; and the third, pawns of patriarchy and male power. While this typology helps in examining gendered images of the Syrian uprising, it also obscures the socioeconomic realities on the ground.

Keywords: female fighters, media, Syrian uprising

Topics: Armed Conflict, Combatants, Female Combatants, Male Combatants, Gender, Gendered Power Relations, Patriarchy, Media, Military Forces & Armed Groups, Non-State Armed Groups Regions: MENA, Asia, Middle East Countries: Syria

Year: 2016

Why Women Rebel: Greed, Grievance, and Women in Armed Rebel Groups

Citation:

Henshaw, Alexis Leanna. 2016. “Why Women Rebel: Greed, Grievance, and Women in Armed Rebel Groups.” Journal of Global Security Studies 1 (3): 204–19.

Author: Alexis Leanna Henshaw

Abstract:

Many scholars have sought to understand what drives recruitment in armed rebel groups. While theories focused on grievance and selective incentives have been the subject of a robust body of scholarship, large-N work in this area tends to focus primarily on male recruits, and often utilizes measures that fail to account for the differing motivations of male and female rebels. Moreover, existing studies of the motives of female rebels have been regionally focused or concentrated on a single case—calling into question whether the findings are consistent across the global population of females in armed rebel groups. Drawing on a data set measuring women’s participation in seventy-two active rebel groups since 1990, this work seeks to test hypotheses drawn from prior research to explain why women rebel. These tests indicate that some trends noted by previous researchers have explanatory power. Particularly, economic and ethnic or religious grievances are motivating factors that drive women to take up arms. At the same time, though, these findings cast doubt on the salience of other motivating factors, such as selective incentives and a desire for political participation.

Keywords: insurgency, civil wars, gender

Topics: Armed Conflict, Combatants, Female Combatants, Gender, Women, Military Forces & Armed Groups, Non-State Armed Groups

Year: 2016

The Body and State Violence, from the Harrowing to the Mundane: Chilean Women's Oral Histories of the Augusto Pinochet Dictatorship (1973–1990)

Citation:

Townsend, Brandi. 2019. "The Body and State Violence, from the Harrowing to the Mundane: Chilean Women's Oral Histories of the Augusto Pinochet Dictatorship (19731990)." Journal of Women's History 31 (2): 33-56.

Author: Brandi Townsend

Abstract:

This article analyzes group interviews with three women from Valparaíso, Chile, who were imprisoned together under Augusto Pinochet's military dictatorship (1973–1990). Sylvia, Alicia, and Oriana's oral histories reveal that they frequently spoke about their bodies to convey their experiences of state violence. Sylvia and Alicia constructed narratives of rebellion against the regime and challenged long-standing notions of men's domination over women's bodies. Oriana's account, however, uncovers the complexity of learning to live with the enduring effects of sexual torture, while at the same time defying conventional ideas about sex and motherhood. The article also emphasizes how these women spoke about structural and subtler forms of violence, including denying basic hygienic conditions, constraining freedom of movement, and restricting the right to control birth. It demonstrates how these oral histories were mediated by historical discourses of gender, maternity, sexuality, class, and race.

Topics: Class, Gender, Gender-Based Violence, Gendered Power Relations, Patriarchy, Health, Trauma, Military Forces & Armed Groups, Rights, Reproductive Rights, Women's Rights, Torture, Sexual Torture, Sexual Violence, Male Perpetrators, SV against Women Regions: Americas, South America Countries: Chile

Year: 2019

Rethinking Rape: The Role of Women in Wartime Violence

Citation:

Loken, Meredith. 2017. “Rethinking Rape: The Role of Women in Wartime Violence.” Security Studies 26 (1): 60–92.

Author: Meredith Loken

Abstract:

There is widespread variation in scope, scale, and forms of rape across and within conflicts. One explanation focuses on the integration of women in armed groups. Scholars and international organizations posit that the inclusion of women in armed groups discourages wartime rape. They advocate women’s increased participation to combat rape and other forms of civilian violence. Using an original dataset of women’s involvement as combatants in civil wars from 1980 to 2009, I argue that the participation of female fighters has no significant impact in constraining an armed group’s propensity to rape. Female combatants do not lessen rape because organizational factors, primarily culture, drive violence in armed factions and encourage conformity irrespective of individual characteristics. Advocating further militarization of women in an attempt to reduce conflict-related rape may be an ineffective policy prescription.

Topics: Armed Conflict, Combatants, Female Combatants, Gender-Based Violence, Military Forces & Armed Groups, Militarization, Sexual Violence, Rape, Violence

Year: 2017

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