Women in Conflict

In ancient times – also referred to as undergrad – I had a project in my final semester that motivated me to live on Red Bull and work 36 hours at a stretch. I loved what I was doing. I was crazy enough to believe there was enough information available to tackle it.

I was looking into the relationship between women and civil wars.

The problem? I had one month to complete the project, and the data just didn’t exist. There were a few scholars working on the problem – some of whom had flaws in their study structure or math.  Mary Caprioli covered the topic in the early 2000s, but left many questions unanswered. And there was a gaping hole in the realm of data.

At some point, I want to pick that project up again, dust it off, and finish it. Much of the existing literature focuses on the impact of women in the peacebuilding process, with a specific lens on African conflicts (see Gizelis, 2011 for a good example). Other researchers focus on women as victims.

Luckily, a new trend is gaining traction. The importance of women as actors, not victims or peacebuilders, is growing. Case studies are emerging with intriguing results. Mohamed, 2013, Oriola, 2012, and Meth, 2010 are examples of this new initiative.

Part of me hopes that with the development of case studies, data collection will be easier in the next decade, and research on women’s role in civil wars will increase. If women are recognized as having a potential to affect peacekeeping and peacemaking processes as many scholars argue (Hendricks and Chivasa, 2008, for example), the same should be expected for conflict processes.

If you are working on this relationship, know of any quality resources, or just have an opinion to voice, please share below!


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