Conflict Processes & War
Gender and Politics
UNSCR 1325, WPS
In my article-based dissertation, I examine domestic and international responses to wartime sexual violence. An overarching theme in this work is a critical engagement with the victimization-agency dichotomy that all too often dominates popular discourse and scholarly literature. In terms of domestic responses, I examine how and why women mobilize in response to wartime sexual violence. On the international side, I explore what a growing global response to sexual violence in conflict means for the implementation of women’s participation norms anchored in United Nations Security Council resolution 1325 and the Women, Peace and Security framework. My research transcends the disciplinary boundaries of political science, sociology and gender studies, and combines cross-national statistical analysis, qualitative fieldwork in Colombia, and surveys/ survey experiments.
While dictatorships perform worse than democracies in respect for most human rights, a large number of autocracies have prioritized the advancement of women’s rights. We present a theory of authoritarian rights provision that focuses on the incentives for dictatorships to secure women’s loyalty, and we identify the particular capacity of institutionalized party-based regimes to supply—and capitalize from—women’s rights policies. Analyzing a comprehensive sample of authoritarian regimes from 1963 to 2009, we find that party-based regimes are associated with greater economic and political rights for women irrespective of whether they hold multiparty elections. A comparative exploration of authoritarian Uganda, Tanzania, and Kenya sheds further light on these findings and examines alternative explanations. Our account of women’s rights as a tool of autocratic party coalition-building contrasts with the provision of civil and associational rights—so-called “coordination goods”—which represents a concession to the opposition and tends to accompany liberalization. (with Daniela Donno)
Gender scholars show that women in situations of civil war have an impressive record of agency in the social and political spheres. Civilian women’s political mobilization during conflict includes active involvement in civil society organizations, such as nongovernmental organizations or social movements, and public articulation of grievances – in political protest, for example. Existing explanations of women’s political mobilization during conflict emphasize the role of demographic imbalances opening up spaces for women. This article proposes a complementary driving factor: women mobilize politically in response to the collective threat that conflict-related sexual violence constitutes to women as a group. Coming to understand sexual violence as a violent manifestation of a patriarchal culture and gender inequalities, women mobilize in response to this violence and around a broader range of women’s issues with the goal of transforming sociopolitical conditions. A case study of Colombia drawing on qualitative interviews illustrates the causal mechanism of collective threat framing in women’s collective mobilization around conflict-related sexual violence. Cross-national statistical analyses lend support to the macro-level implications of the theoretical framework and reveal a positive association between high prevalence of conflict-related rape on the one hand and women’s protest activity and linkages to international women’s nongovernmental organizations on the other.
In response to women’s frequent marginalization in conflict settings, the United Nations Security Council passed resolution 1325 on Women, Peace and Security in 2000. It called for including a gender perspective into peacekeeping operations and for enhancing women’s participation in all aspects of post-conflict reconstruction. This article contributes to the empirical literature on the implementation of UNSCR 1325, examining the extent of gender mainstreaming in UN peacekeeping mandates. Situated in a theoretical framework of gradual norm cascades, it hypothesizes that UNSCR 1325 has increased gender content in mandates, but selectively so. Statistical analyses of an original dataset covering all 71 UN peacekeeping operations from 1948 until 2014 reveal that gender-mainstreamed mandates are more likely in conflicts with high levels of sexual violence. In designing gendered peacekeeping mandates, actors thus appear to be responsive to cues about the salience of a very visible, albeit narrow, gender issue emanating from the respective conflict rather than being guided by the universalist norms of women’s participation entrenched in UNSCR 1325.