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The Role of Women's Organizations in Post-Conflict Cambodia


Frieson, Kate G. 1998. The Role of Women's Organizations in Post-Conflict Cambodia. Washington: Center for Development Information and Evaluation, USAID.

Author: Kate G. Frieson

Keywords: post-conflict, women's organizations, intersectionality, socio-economics


"Two decades of conflict and genocide in Cambodia, in particular the rule of terror of the Khmer Rouge, have had devastating social, family, interpersonal, economic, and political effects on women. This report, one in a USAID-funded series on women in post-conflict societies, explores the role of the indigenous women's organizations (WOs) created and nurtured by the international community to improve the lot of Cambodian women. The WOs, though numbering only 18, are empowering women through vocational training and microcredit programs and by assisting victims of HIV/AIDS, domestic violence, and trafficking and forced prostitution. They are also beginning to influence the political landscape through voter education and advocacy programs. According to one trainee: "Men cannot abuse women if women know their rights. Now we understand how to work together for justice." Yet WOs continue to face many obstacles. The country has no tradition of civil society organizations, government support is unstable, and WOs' dependence on external assistance limits their autonomy and capacity to fashion new programs. WO leadership is dominated by one charismatic figure reluctant to delegate authority. Most of the WOs have yet to develop an open management system in which the staff can discuss issues and problems freely. WOs require continual international support to survive and play an important role in improving women's social and economic conditions.

"The Cambodian experience inculcates the following major lessons: (1) Comprehensive, targeted interventions based on a coherent policy framework are needed to help women and reconstruct gender relations in post-conflict societies. Gender-blind policies and programs are not sufficient. (2) The war undermined the traditional sexual division of labor, creating new economic and political opportunities for women. Women entered into occupations closed to them earlier and held important national and local offices during the conflict. After the war, donors developed programs to consolidate those gains. This course can be followed in other post-conflict societies. (3) Education and training of women in refugee camps can prepare them to assume leadership roles in post-conflict societies. (4) Newly founded WOs can be used by the international community to channel humanitarian and developmental assistance in post-conflict societies. But WOs are also a means to help women gain self-respect and participate in decisionmaking. (5) WOs in post-conflict societies can develop local roots and gain political legitimacy despite dependence on international resources. (6) Donors should consider multi-year funding to allow WOs to focus on social, economic, and political development activities. (7) WOs often follow the example of international NGOs in their working conditions, spending considerable resources on four-wheel-drive vehicles, spacious offices, and large support staff. Such operations are questionable under the conditions of post-conflict societies. (8) Cambodian WOs should be encouraged to specialize instead of competing for external resources for similar programs." (This annotation is from

Topics: Civil Society, Development, Displacement & Migration, Refugee/IDP Camps, Economies, Education, Gender, Women, Gendered Power Relations, Genocide, Justice, Political Participation, Post-Conflict, Rights, Women's Rights, Violence Regions: Asia, Southeast Asia Countries: Cambodia

Year: 1998

Rape as a Weapon of War: Advancing Human Rights for Women at the U.S.-Mexico Border


Falcón, Sylvanna. 2001. "Rape as a Weapon of War: Advancing Human Rights for Women at the U.S.-Mexico Border." Social Justice 28 (2): 31-50.

Author: Sylvanna Falcon


Falcón examines the gendered effects of militarization on women at the U.S.- Mexico border, particularly in the form of "militarized border rape" and sexual assault. For Falcón, militarization ideology is embedded with issues of hyper-masculinity, patriarchy, and threats to national security. She maintains that violence against women has escalated to the serial, multiple, and mass murders of Mexican women (e.g., in the border city of Ciudad Juárez).

Keywords: war on drugs, militarization, rape, national security

Topics: Gender, Women, Masculinity/ies, Gender-Based Violence, Gendered Power Relations, Patriarchy, Military Forces & Armed Groups, Militarization, Rights, Human Rights, Women's Rights, Security, Sexual Violence, Male Perpetrators, Rape, SV against women, Violence Regions: Americas, North America Countries: Mexico, United States of America

Year: 2001

Gender Group Differences in Coping with Chronic Terror: The Israeli Scene


Zeidner, Moshe. 2006. "Gender Group Differences in Coping with Chronic Terror: The Israeli Scene." Sex Roles 54 (3): 297-310.

Author: Moshe Zeidner


Gender group differences in terror–stress, cognitive appraisals, ways of coping with terror, and stress reactions were explored in a sample of Israeli adults following prolonged exposure to political violence. Data were gathered at the height of the Al-Aqsa Intifada uprising (May/July 2002) from a sample of 707 adult participants (60% women and 40% men) residing in Haifa and northern Israel. Israeli women reported that they were more distressed by political violence than the men did, and they also appraised the crisis situation as more threatening and less manageable. Women reported using more problem-focused as well as emotion-focused coping than men did; both men and women used a mixture of coping strategies. Compared to men, women reported that they experienced more somatic symptoms and more frequent posttraumatic stress symptoms than men did. Negative affectivity was found to mediate gender differences in appraisals, coping, and outcomes. Overall, the nexus of relations among key variables was found to be highly similar for men and women. These data suggest that women may be more reactive to chronic political violence situations than men are. The data are discussed and explicated in the context of stress and coping theory and prior research on political violence and community disasters. 

Keywords: trauma, mental health, posttraumatic stress disorder, female civilians, male civilians

Topics: Armed Conflict, Gender, Women, Health, Mental Health, PTSD, Trauma, Terrorism, Violence Regions: MENA, Asia, Middle East Countries: Israel

Year: 2006

Role of Peritraumatic Dissociation and Gender in the Association Between Trauma and Mental Health in a Palestinian Community Sample


Punamäki, Raija-Leena, Ivan H. Komproe, Samir Qouta, Mustafa Elmasri, and Joop T.V.M. de Jong. 2005. "The Role of Peritraumatic Dissociation and Gender in the Association Between Trauma and Mental Health in a Palestinian Community Sample." The American Journal of Psychiatry 162 (3): 545-51.

Authors: Raija-Leena Punamäki, Ivan H. Komproe, Samir Qouta, Mustafa Elmasri, Joop T.V.M. de Jong


Objective: This research focused on gender-specific trauma exposure and mental health symptoms among Palestinians living in conditions of military violence. It also examined the gender-specific role of peritraumatic dissociation in moderating the association between lifetime trauma and mental health.

Method: A random sample of 311 Palestinian women and 274 men ages 16–60 years from the Gaza Strip participated. The subjects were asked about lifetime trauma and peritraumatic dissociation during their most severe traumatic experience. Mental health was indicated by total scores and diagnostic variables of posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD), anxiety, mood (depression), and somatization disorders. Symptoms of hostility were assessed as a total score.

Results: The women reported a lower level of lifetime trauma than the men, but exposure to trauma was associated with PTSD among both genders. Exposure to lifetime trauma was further associated with anxiety, mood, and somatoform disorders only among women but not among men. No gender differences were found in the level of peritraumatic dissociation. Analyses on moderating effects showed that peritraumatic dissociation made both men and women more vulnerable to symptoms of hostility and men to depressive symptoms when they were exposed to lifetime trauma.

Conclusions: The results are consistent with previous studies in more peaceful conditions: men experience more traumatic events, whereas exposure is associated with more severe psychiatric disorders among women. Peritraumatic dissociation as an acute response to trauma constituted a risk for mental health symptoms in both genders.

Keywords: trauma, mental health, anxiety, depression, posttraumatic stress disorder, military occupation, female civilians, male civilians

Topics: Gender, Health, Mental Health, PTSD, Trauma, Military Forces & Armed Groups, Militaries, Violence Regions: MENA, Asia, Middle East Countries: Palestine / Occupied Palestinian Territories

Year: 2005

The Psychological and Medical Sequelae of War in Central American Refugee Mothers and Children


Locke, Catherine J., Karen Southwick, Lauren A. McCloskey, and Maria Eugenia Fernández-Esquer. 1996. "The Psychological and Medical Sequelae of War in Central American Refugee Mothers and Children." Archives of Pediatrics & Adolescent Medicine 150 (8): 822-28.

Authors: Catherine. J. Locke, Karen Southwick, Lauren. A. McCloskey, Maria Eugenia Fernández-Esquer


Objective: To investigate the physical and mainly psychological sequelae of exposure to war in Central American children and their mothers who immigrated to the United States on average 4 years before the study began.

Design: Interview study.

Participants: Twenty-two immigrant Central American women caretakers and 1 of their children aged 5 to 13 years.

Main Outcome Measures: Standardized and new measures were administered to assess children's physical and mental health symptoms and exposure to political violence.

Results: Eighteen of the 22 children had chronic health problems. Fifteen children and all of the adults had observed traumatic events, including bombings and homicides. Thirteen of the children showed mental health symptom profiles above established norms, although only 2 met the criteria for posttraumatic stress disorder according to their own reports. Many of the caretakers were unaware of their child's psychological distress. Four of the mothers exhibited posttraumatic stress disorder, and their symptoms predicted their child's mental health.

Conclusions: Pediatricians are sometimes the first and only contacts these families have with health care providers. Caretakers' reports of children's mental health are often incomplete. It is therefore important for physicians to probe for "hidden" symptoms in refugee children. These family members may need referrals to social and psychological services, and pediatricians can open the gates to existing community networks of support. Because we found that maternal mental health influences the child's, the child's interests are well served when pediatricians also encourage the mother to contact services for herself if she confides that she is experiencing some of the severe psychological sequelae reported by the women in this study.

Keywords: female refugees, refugee children, mental health, trauma

Topics: Displacement & Migration, Refugees, Gender, Women, Girls, Boys, Health, Mental Health, PTSD, Trauma, Violence Regions: Americas, Central America

Year: 1996

Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy Versus Other PTSD Psychotherapies as Treatment for Women Victims of War-Related Violence: A Systematic Review


Dossa, N. Ines., and Marie Hatem. 2012. "Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy Versus Other PTSD Psychotherapies as Treatment for Women Victims of War-Related Violence: A Systematic Review." The Scientific World Journal 2012:  1-19.

Authors: N. Ines Dossa, Marie Hatem


Although war-trauma victims are at a higher risk of developing PTSD, there is no consensus on the effective treatments for this condition among civilians who experienced war/conflict-related trauma. This paper assessed the effectiveness of the various forms of cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) at lowering PTSD and depression severity. All published and unpublished randomized controlled trials studying the effectiveness of CBT at reducing PTSD and/or depression severity in the population of interest were searched. Out of 738 trials identified, 33 analysed a form of CBTs effectiveness, and ten were included in the paper. The subgroup analysis shows that cognitive processing therapy (CPT), culturally adapted CPT, and narrative exposure therapy (NET) contribute to the reduction of PTSD and depression severity in the population of interest. The effect size was also significant at a level of 0.01 with the exception of the effect of NET on depression score. The test of subgroup differences was also significant, suggesting CPT is more effective than NET in our population of interest. CPT as well as its culturally adapted form and NET seem effective in helping war/conflict traumatised civilians cope with their PTSD symptoms. However, more studies are required if one wishes to recommend one of these therapies above the other.

Keywords: mental health, counseling, therapy, posttraumatic stress disorder

Topics: Armed Conflict, Gender, Women, Health, Mental Health, PTSD, Trauma, Violence

Year: 2012

Sierra Leone's Former Child Soldiers: A Longitudinal Study of Risk, Protective Factors, and Mental Health


Betancourt, Theresa S., Robert T. Brennan, Julia Rubin-Smith, Garrett M. Fitzmaurice, and Stephen E. Gilman. 2010. "Sierra Leone's Former Child Soldiers: A Longitudinal Study of Risk, Protective Factors, and Mental Health." Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry 49 (6): 606-15.

Authors: Theresa S. Betancourt, Robert T. Brennan, Julia Rubin-Smith, Garrett M. Fitzmaurice, Stephen E. Gilman


OBJECTIVE: To investigate the longitudinal course of internalizing and externalizing problems and adaptive/prosocial behaviors among Sierra Leonean former child soldiers and whether postconflict factors contribute to adverse or resilient mental health outcomes.

METHOD: Male and female former child soldiers (N = 260, aged 10 to 17 years at baseline) were recruited from the roster of an non-governmental organization (NGO)-run Interim Care Center in Kono District and interviewed in 2002, 2004, and 2008. The retention rate was 69%. Linear growth models were used to investigate trends related to war and postconflict experiences.

RESULTS: The long-term mental health of former child soldiers was associated with war experiences and postconflict risk factors, which were partly mitigated by postconflict protective factors. Increases in externalizing behavior were associated with killing/injuring others during the war and postconflict stigma, whereas increased community acceptance was associated with decreases in externalizing problems (b = -1.09). High baseline levels of internalizing problems were associated with being raped, whereas increases were associated with younger involvement in armed groups and social and economic hardships. Improvements in internalizing problems were associated with higher levels of community acceptance and increases in community acceptance (b = -0.86). Decreases in adaptive/prosocial behaviors were associated with killing/injuring others during the war and postconflict stigma, but partially mitigated by social support, being in school and increased community acceptance (b = 1.93).

CONCLUSIONS: Psychosocial interventions for former child soldiers may be more effective if they account for postconflict factors in addition to war exposures. Youth with accumulated risk factors, lack of protective factors, and persistent distress should be identified. Sustainable services to promote community acceptance, reduce stigma, and expand social supports and educational access are recommended.

Keywords: child soldiers, mental health

Topics: Armed Conflict, Combatants, Child Soldiers, Gender, Girls, Boys, Health, Mental Health, Trauma, Military Forces & Armed Groups, NGOs, Post-Conflict, Sexual Violence, Rape, Violence Regions: Africa, West Africa Countries: Sierra Leone

Year: 2010

The Politics of Culture in Humanitarian Aid to Women Refugees Who Have Experienced Sexual Violence


Atlani, Laetitia, and Cecile Rousseau. 2000. "The Politics of Culture in Humanitarian Aid to Women Refugees Who Have Experienced Sexual Violence." Transcultural Psychiatry 37 (3): 435-49.

Authors: Laetitia Atlani, Cecile Rousseau


There is a growing sense of urgency within international humanitarian aid agencies to intervene quickly when faced with organized violence stemming from war or armed conflict. From this perspective, the rape of refugees calls for prompt psychological intervention. Beyond this sense of urgency, the premises underlying the different models of humanitarian intervention being utilized require further documentation. What concepts and practices characterize the mental health interventions for refugee women who have suffered sexual violence? How is transcultural psychiatry conceived and practised in refugee camps? How is ‘refugee culture’ defined? What do these definitions imply when translated into therapeutic care to rape victims? This article discusses these issues, and raises some concerns about the appropriateness and the scope of UN and nongovernmental approaches. 

Keywords: humanitarian aid, sexual violence, refugee, culture, documentation, mental health, transcultural psychiatry, mental health intervention

Topics: Armed Conflict, Displacement & Migration, Refugees, Refugee/IDP Camps, Gender, Women, Health, Mental Health, Humanitarian Assistance, Context-Appropriate Response to Trauma, International Organizations, NGOs, Sexual Violence, Rape, Violence

Year: 2000

The Gun on the Kitchen Table: The Sexist Subtext of Private Policing in Israel


Mazali, Rela. 2009. "The Gun on the Kitchen Table: The Sexist Subtext of Private Policing in Israel." In Gender Perspectives on Small Arms and Light Weapons., eds. Vanessa Farr, Albrecht Schnabel. New York: UN University Press.

Author: Rela Mazali

Keywords: private security, non-state policing

Topics: Age, Gender, Violence, Weapons /Arms Regions: MENA, Asia, Middle East Countries: Israel

Year: 2009


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