Theme Panel: Gendering Transitions from Conflict

Gendering Transitions from Conflict

Co-sponsored by Division 52: Migration & Citizenship
Full Paper Panel

(Chair) Roya Izadi, University of Rhode Island; (Discussant) Sabrina Karim, Cornell University; (Discussant) Elizabeth L Brannon, Michigan State University

Session Description:
Women’s security is a vital component of peace and stability after conflict. The papers in this panel bring new insights and data into the scholarship on gender and conflict. Lee’s paper highlights the role of international audiences and leaders’ strategic deployment of accountability using an innovative dataset on domestic accountability and examines the contexts in which leaders respond to wartime sexual violence. Torres and Karim’s paper investigates the determinants of sexual violence in post conflict societies using novel neighborhood-level data. Vincent’s paper shows that post-conflict states can provide new opportunity structures for women conditional on the willingness and ability of political elites in incorporating security measures for women. Fox, Torres, and Karim’s paper introduces original survey data from members of security forces to test the concept of the gendered protection norm, the idea that men are the natural protectors, and that women and children should not be put in harm’s way. These four papers provide new and important empirical explanations for transitioning from conflict while taking into account gender and related issues.


Gender Justice for Whom? Strategic Accountability for Wartime Sexual Violence
Sumin Lee, Rutgers University

Why do some governments take accountability measures in response to wartime sexual violence during and after civil wars while others do not? In this project, I examine the relationship between international demands for gender justice and the domestic government’s decisions to address wartime sexual violence. I argue that conflict-affected governments strategically deploy accountability measures for wartime sexual violence according to the potential costs they face from the international community. When there are non-targeted demands for gender justice, legitimacy-seeking governments will deploy accountability measures to window-dress compliance with international norms and avert further domestic mobilizations. When the international community targets a particular state in demand of gender justice, conflict-affected governments, regardless of their legitimacy-seeking incentives, will deploy accountability measures to distance the leader from the entity that engaged in violence and restore the masculine authority of the government. However, I argue that they are likely to be selective in terms of who gets prosecuted in order to minimize the political costs of punishing soldiers during wars. Using an original dataset on domestic accountability measures for wartime sexual violence in conflict-affected African states between 1998 and 2018, I find empirical support for these arguments. This project contributes to the gender justice literature by constructing accountability as a strategic choice used by conflict-affected governments to win civil wars or restore legitimacy. It also conducts a first cross-national analysis of domestic accountability for wartime sexual violence, providing an empirical assessment of international efforts to end impunity for wartime sexual violence.

Political Elite Competition and Post-conflict Women’s Security
Taylor Vincent, University of Maryland, College Park

How do the legacies of conflict affect women’s security? The security of women, which is closely linked to the security of states, is an imperative concept for scholars of conflict, democratization, and gender studies to investigate. While there is extensive research on these ideas independently, there is little tying it together. We know quite a bit about the rise of women’s rights in the wake of large societal shifts and about how states transition into peace and democracy, but we know fairly little about how in the aftermath of conflict women’s security is shaped by these forces. I argue that conflict creates new opportunity structures in a post-conflict environment which can improve the security of women, but this is conditional on the willingness and ability of political elites in this new environment to incorporate pro-security measures. Using a cross-national dataset measuring women’s security in post-conflict states, I empirically test my claims about how political elites shape women’s security policies.

The Correlates of Sexual and Gender-Based Violence
Priscilla Torres, Duke University; Sabrina Karim, Cornell University

What are the determinants of sexual violence in the aftermath of civil war? While international initiatives, such as United Nations Security Council Resolution 1325, focus on addressing and preventing sexual violence in the post-conflict period, the academic literature on sexual violence focuses on its occurrences during war. We aim to close this gap by utilizing novel neighborhood-level data collection from One Stop Centers in post-conflict Liberia as well as existing data from the Liberian Census and the Liberian Demographic and Health Survey. We offer potential determinants of sexual violence in post-war Liberia. Using a Geographic Information System (GIS) approach, we disaggregate between relational characteristics and community-level characteristics, such as prior conflict exposure, to determine some of the correlates of sexual violence at the neighborhood level.

Lock Up Your Daughters! Experimentally Testing the Gendered Protection Norm
Sara Fox, University of Pittsburgh; Priscilla Torres, Duke University; Sabrina Karim, Cornell University

The gendered protection norm refers to the stereotypical belief – explicit or implicit – that men are the natural protectors of women and children, and that women and children should not be put in harm’s way. It is often the reason that women are kept away from combat and other violent situations despite their willingness and capability to use violence. In the context of peacekeeping operations, prior research finds that women are often deployed to missions where there is less risk of sexual violence and gender inequity is less pervasive (Karim and Beardsley 2013, 2017). Using a novel conjoint experiment, this paper will examine how the gendered protection norm manifests in security forces’ decision-making by asking the question: under what conditions do individuals prefer to deploy female peacekeepers? Through the use of survey data from members of security forces (members of the armed forces, police and gendarmerie) from a cross-national sample, we test several arguments by varying the level of sexual violence and peacekeeper deaths that an operation has experienced, the sex of a hypothetical peacekeeper, their years of experience, and the type of experience they have. The results of this paper have implications for peacekeeping effectiveness as well as for the exclusion of women in security more generally.