Non-State Armed Groups

Girl Soldiers and Human Rights: Lessons from Angola, Mozambique, Sierra Leone and Northern Uganda


Denov, Myriam. 2008. “Girl Soldiers and Human Rights: Lessons from Angola, Mozambique, Sierra Leone and Northern Uganda.” International Journal of Human Rights 12 (5): 813–36.

Author: Myriam Denov


The issue of child soldiers has become an issue of global concern. More than 250,000 soldiers under the age of 18 are fighting in conflicts in over 40 countries around the world. While there is ample descriptive evidence of the conditions and factors underlying the rise of child soldiery in the developing world, most of the literature has portrayed this as a uniquely male phenomenon, ultimately neglecting the experiences and perspectives of girls within fighting forces. Drawing upon the findings of three studies funded by the Canadian International Development Agency's Child Protection Research Fund, this paper traces the perspectives and experiences of girls as victims and participants of violence and armed conflict in Angola, Sierra Leone, Mozambique, and Northern Uganda. The three studies collectively reveal three salient themes. First, whether in the heat of conflict or within post-war programming, girls are, for the most part, rendered invisible and marginalised. Second, in spite of this profound invisibility and marginalisation, girls are fundamental to the war machine—their operational contributions are integral and critical to the overall functioning of armed groups. Third, girls in fighting forces contend with overwhelming experiences of victimisation, perpetration, and insecurity. In the aftermath of conflict, girls arguably bear a form of secondary victimisation through socio-economic marginalisation and exclusion, as well as the ongoing threats to their health and personal security.

Topics: Armed Conflict, Combatants, Child Soldiers, Gender, Girls, Health, Military Forces & Armed Groups, Non-State Armed Groups, Rights, Human Rights, Security, Human Security, Violence Regions: Africa, East Africa, Southern Africa, West Africa Countries: Angola, Mozambique, Sierra Leone, Uganda

Year: 2008

Islamist Women of Hamas: Between Feminism and Nationalism


Jad, Islah. 2011. “Islamist Women of Hamas: Between Feminism and Nationalism.” Inter-Asia Cultural Studies 12 (2): 176-201. doi:10.1080/14649373.2011.554647.

Author: Islah Jad


In December, 1995, when Hamas announced the establishment of the Islamic National Salvation Party, a political organisation separate from its military wing, it opened the way for involvement of the Islamic movement in the political processes brought about in the West Bank and Gaza with the signing of the Oslo Accords and the arrival of the Palestinian National Authority. In speaking of the rights of different groups, including women, in its founding statement, and in setting up in Gaza a Women’s Action Department, the new Party opened its doors to the ‘new Islamic woman’ and to a significant evolution in Islamist gender ideology in Gaza, if not in the West Bank – where, due to Hamas’ policy there of targeting only males, there exists no parallel to the Salvation Party or organisational support for women like that represented by the Women’s Action Department in Gaza. Hamas’ gender ideology, like that of the secularist parties, remains contradictory, and doors to women’s equality only partly open; nevertheless, Islamist women have managed to build impressive, well-organised women’s constituencies among highly educated and professional women coming from poor and refugee backgrounds; and the Salvation Party shows an increasing tendency to foster gender equality and more egalitarian social ideals, while holding fast to the agenda of national liberation. These advances have been achieved both through alternative interpretations of Islamic legal and religious texts, and through positive engagement with the discourses of other groups, whether secular feminists or nationalists. In contrast, secularists are losing ground by advocating a discourse of rights in isolation from the national agenda and in the absence of a mobilising organisation. These developments suggest possibilities for mutual accommodation between Islamist and other Palestinian groups. They suggest also that the nature of the state proposed by Islamists will depend to a large extent on the visions and challenges posed by other nationalist and secularist groups.

Topics: Armed Conflict, National Liberation Wars, Feminisms, Gender, Women, Gendered Power Relations, Gender Equality/Inequality, Military Forces & Armed Groups, Non-State Armed Groups, Nationalism, Political Participation Regions: MENA, Asia, Middle East Countries: Palestine / Occupied Palestinian Territories

Year: 2011

“We’ll Kill You If You Cry”: Sexual Violence in the Sierra Leone Conflict


Taylor, Louise. 2003. “We’ll Kill You If You Cry”: Sexual Violence in the Sierra Leone Conflict. New York: Human Rights Watch.

Author: Louise Taylor


The 75-page report, “'We’ll Kill You If You Cry:' Sexual Violence in the  Sierra Leone Conflict,” presents evidence of horrific abuses against women and girls in every region of the country by the rebel Revolutionary United Front (RUF), as well as other rebel, government and international peacekeeping forces. The Human Rights Watch report, which is based on hundreds of interviews with victims, witnesses and officials, details crimes of sexual violence committed primarily by soldiers of various rebel forces—the RUF, the Armed Forces Revolutionary Council (AFRC), and the West Side Boys. The report also examines sexual violence by government forces and militias, as well as international peacekeepers.

Topics: Armed Conflict, Combatants, Male Combatants, Gender, Women, Girls, International Organizations, Military Forces & Armed Groups, Private Military & Security, Militaries, Militias, Non-State Armed Groups, Peacekeeping, Sexual Violence, Rape, SV against Women Regions: Africa, West Africa Countries: Sierra Leone

Year: 2003

Presidential Address: Heroes, Warriors, and Burqas: A Feminist Sociologist’s Reflections on September 11


Lorber, Judith. 2002. “Presidential Address: Heroes, Warriors, and Burqas: A Feminist Sociologist’s Reflections on September 11.” Sociological Forum 17 (3): 377-96.

Author: Judith Lorber


My presidential address looked back at the gendered imagery of American heroes and warriors, Muslim terrorists, and oppressed Islamic women as they appeared in comparatively sophisticated media sources in the first 6 months after September 11. The imagery was conventionally gendered, but the actions of women and men reported in the same sources showed multiple gendering heterogeneity within homogeneity. Making this multiplicity of gendering visible blurs and undermines gender lines and the inequities built on them. The social constructions of heroism, masculinity, and Islamic womanhood are core parts of the gender politics of September 11, a politics deeply embedded in the current debates over the causes and consequences of terrorism and war.

Keywords: September 11, Gender, masculinity, terrorism, Islamic feminism

Topics: Feminisms, Gender, Women, Men, Masculinity/ies, Gendered Power Relations, Gender Equality/Inequality, Gender Equity, Military Forces & Armed Groups, Non-State Armed Groups, Religion, Terrorism

Year: 2002

The Indigenous Woman as Victim of Her Culture in Neoliberal Mexico


Newdick, Vivian. 2005. “The Indigenous Woman as Victim of Her Culture in Neoliberal Mexico.” Cultural Dynamics 17 (1): 73-92.

Author: Vivian Newdick


This article examines the appearance of an indigenous woman victim subject at the intersection of global and national rights discourses in Mexico. In the case of the rape of three indigenous women by the Mexican Army, in World Bank policy recommendations in which culture and gender are cast as 'impediments to development', and in everyday explanations for poverty, culture is cast as harmful to indigenous women. Structural violence and indigenous women's agency are obscured. This victim subject emerges to contest recent destabilizations of the meanings of gender and culture in the wake of indigenous women's militancy in the 1994 Zapatista uprising.

Topics: Economies, Gender, Women, Indigenous, Military Forces & Armed Groups, Militaries, Non-State Armed Groups, Rights, Human Rights, Women's Rights, Sexual Violence, Rape, SV against Women, Violence Regions: Americas, North America Countries: Mexico

Year: 2005

Adolescent Girls in Colombia’s Guerrilla: An Exploration into Gender and Trauma Dynamics


Hernández, Pilar, and Amanda Romero. 2003. “Adolescent Girls in Colombia’s Guerrilla: An Exploration into Gender and Trauma Dynamics.” Journal of Prevention & Intervention in the Community 26 (1): 21–38. 

Authors: Pilar Hernández, Amanda Romero


Armed combat in childhood and adolescence is a form of child abuse and a violation of International Humanitarian Law. This study explores the impact of guerrilla life in adolescent peasant girls coerced to join the Armed Revolutionary Forces of Colombia (FARC). It analyzes their stories within the social context of the ongoing conflict in the country. Seven adolescent peasant girls were interviewed with a semi-structured format and the descriptive data were analyzed using the constant comparison method. Results reflect the ways in which they joined the guerrilla, and the traumatic aspects of gendered-based violence and combat exposure. An understanding of these traumatic experiences is discussed highlighting the continuum of patriarchal practices that make girls specific targets of sexual exploitation. Implications for rehabilitation programs are discussed.

Keywords: trauma, war, Gender

Topics: Armed Conflict, Combatants, Female Combatants, Gender, Girls, Gender-Based Violence, Gendered Power Relations, Patriarchy, Health, Trauma, International Law, International Humanitarian Law (IHL), Military Forces & Armed Groups, Non-State Armed Groups, Sexual Violence, Sexual Exploitation and Abuse Regions: Americas, South America Countries: Colombia

Year: 2003

Girl Child Soldiers: The Other Face of Sexual Exploitation and Gender Violence


Morales, Waltraud Queiser. 2008. “Girl Child Soldiers: The Other Face of Sexual Exploitation and Gender Violence.” Air & Space Power Journal 1 (1): online.

Author: Waltraud Queiser Morales

Topics: Armed Conflict, Combatants, Gender, Girls, Military Forces & Armed Groups, Non-State Armed Groups, Sexual Violence, Sexual Exploitation and Abuse, Violence

Year: 2008

Women in Latin American Guerrilla Movements: A Comparative Perspective


Reif, Linda L. 1986. "Women in Latin American Guerrilla Movements: A Comparative Perspective." Comparative Politics 18 (2): 147-69.

Author: Linda L. Reif


Guerrilla warfare in Latin American revolutionary movements has until recently been regarded as an exclusively male domain of political behavior. North American analysts have tended to consider Latin American women's political behavior largely in terms of conventional democratic processes such as voting, reflecting both ethnocentricity and gender bias. Major works on guerrilla warfare have also failed to provide even cursory information on the role of women. Latin American women, however, have contributed to the guerrilla struggles of past revolutionary movements, though not in extensive numbers. With the influx of numerous women into the Nicaraguan, Salvadoran, and Guatemalan movements, analysts have been forced to acknowledge and reconsider women's contributions to armed struggles. This paper delineates and compares patterns of women's participation in the guerrilla struggles of Latin American revolutionary movements. While some analysts have limited the term '"guerrilla" to forces fighting only in the countryside, others, including guerrilla leaders themselves, refer to both urban and rural forces. This paper assumes the latter definition. Guerrillas are members of political organizations operating in both rural and urban areas which use armed warfare for the purpose of changing societal structure. Latin America's historically dependent position in the world capitalist system indicates that past revolutionary struggles have been directed at colonial powers as well as internal political elites that arise from each nation's specific pattern of dependency. Three questions are discussed in regard to women's participation in guerrilla struggles. First, what factors constrain Latin American women's participation as compared to men's? Second, within gender, which classes face the least barriers to participation? Finally, what roles do "guerrilleras" most likely perform'? Expected patterns of participation are de-lineated in light of these questions. Guerrilla struggles in five nations are then compared to demonstrate the extent that the patterns of participation hold.

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

Year: 1986

Reaching the Girls: Study on Girls Associated with Armed Forces and Groups in the Democratic Republic of Congo


Verhey, Beth. 2004. Reaching the Girls: Study on Girls Associated with Armed Forces and Groups in the Democratic Republic of Congo. London: Save the Children UK.

Author: Beth Verhey


This study analyses the situation of girls associated with armed forces and groups in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). In particular, this study seeks to understand why girls are not reached by the efforts to gain the release of children associated with armed groups in DRC and to support their reintegration. Indeed, it is widely acknowledged by child protection organisations globally that knowledge about the involvement of girls in armed groups, and how to support their particular needs in reintegration efforts, is insufficient. Undertaken as a partnership between four international non- governmental organisations (NGOs), Save the Children UK and the NGO Group of CARE, IFESH and IRC, the study featured two months of in-depth fieldwork covering the five Provinces of Eastern DRC -- Maniema, North Katanga, North and South Kivu and Orientale.

Topics: Combatants, Child Soldiers, Female Combatants, DDR, Gender, Girls, Military Forces & Armed Groups, Non-State Armed Groups Regions: Africa, Central Africa Countries: Democratic Republic of the Congo

Year: 2004

Guerrilleras in Latin America: Domestic and International Roles


Gonzalez-Perez, Margaret. 2006. “Guerrilleras in Latin America: Domestic and International Roles.” Journal of Peace Research 43 (3): 313–29.

Author: Margaret Gonzalez-Perez


This analysis identifies two different categories of guerrilla organizations and the roles of women within each. Guerrilla movements with ‘international’ agendas typically oppose US imperialism, capitalist expansion, or Western culture in general. ‘Domestic’ guerrilla organizations usually take action against perceived forces of oppression within their own nation. These different agendas have a direct impact on the role of women within them. Internationally oriented guerrilla groups assign traditional, limited gender roles to their female members, while domestic guerrilla organizations challenge domestic prohibitions, including those imposed on women, and encourage full and active participation of female members at all levels of guerrilla activity. This hypothesis is supported by comparative case studies of the groups in question. The study of women’s roles within guerrilla movements provides insight into modern political issues, such as insurgencies and other non-traditional methods of warfare. The support of half a population can enable a guerrilla organization to further its objectives considerably, and as female participation increases, the group itself gains power. Thus, an in-depth understanding of women and their relationship to guerrilla movements contributes substantially to peace and conflict studies as well as studies of non-traditional warfare.

Topics: Armed Conflict, Combatants, Female Combatants, Gender, Women, Gender Roles, Military Forces & Armed Groups, Non-State Armed Groups Regions: Americas, Caribbean countries, Central America, North America, South America Countries: Argentina, Brazil, Colombia, Cuba, El Salvador, Mexico, Nicaragua, Paraguay, Peru, Uruguay

Year: 2006


© 2024 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 - Non-State Armed Groups