The Role of Women in Former Rebel Parties in Post-Conflict Africa

My dissertation examines the role of women in former rebel parties in post-conflict Africa. Women’s participation in rebellion has a variety of positive effects—including improving popular support and legitimacy and increasing the lethality of groups. Further, through their participation, women are able to experience greater equality with men, in addition to building critical skills and networks. However, little is known about how former rebel women build on these experiences post-conflict. I seek to understand the post-conflict fate of former rebel women and how it relates to former rebel party politics. I ask if and how former rebel women are able to build on their conflict experiences and networks to access positions of political power in the post-conflict environment in cases in which their rebel group has transitioned into politics. I intend to bring light to the role of women in former rebel parties and to probe how these parties may use women’s political representation strategically. In this dissertation, I combine large-N quantitative analysis with original data collected via fieldwork in Uganda.

Working Papers

A Seat at the Table: The Direct and Indirect Effects of Women’s Participation in Rebel Groups (with Jakana Thomas and Lora DiBlasi)

A burgeoning body of research examines how the inclusion of women influences the peace process. While some scholars note that including women in negotiations increases the probability and durability of peace, no research examines the mechanisms that explain this relationship. This project takes the first step toward addressing this lacuna by examining how female rebels affect the probability of peace talks with the state. We use causal mediation analysis to examine whether female members in rebel organizations directly or indirectly effect a group’s opportunity and willingness to pursue compromise settlements. Our empirical analysis of 106 African rebel groups from 1989-2009 finds evidence for both types of relationships. First, we examine whether female rebels impact a groups behavior, which may in turn impact its willingness or ability to negotiate with the state indirectly. We find evidence that groups with a greater number of female use terrorism less frequently, which decreases the organization’s opportunity to negotiate. After accounting for this indirect link between female rebels and negotiations, however, we find that women also directly influence negotiation onset. Our secondary analysis attempts to explain this effect by examining whether groups with women are more likely to compromise. Our results support this argument.

Which Women Get a Seat at the Table: Evaluating Women’s Inclusion in the Colombian Peace Process (with Rebecca Best)

Women have been overwhelmingly excluded from peace processes, representing just four percent of signatories from 1992 to 2011 (UN Women 2012). In the two decades since the adoption of United Nations Security Council Resolution 1325, scholars and practitioners have pushed for increases in women’s inclusion in such processes, arguing that the representation of women is a positive force for peace. We argue that the impact of women on peace is partially due to a selection bias in which women are included. To better understand women’s inclusion, we draw on original data from the Colombian peace process, which has been hailed as the most gender-inclusive to date. We examine the backgrounds and roles of women delegates as well as how their compensation compared to that of male delegates and draw conclusions about how valued and influential their participation was. We find that among the FARC delegation, women were heavily concentrated in communications roles, while the government women delegates were incorporated into committees. However, we identify a wage gap between men and women government delegates and find that women were more likely to have backgrounds in peace and conflict work, while men were more likely to have bureaucratic government careers.

The Appointment of Men as Representatives to the UN Commission on the Status of Women

In this paper, I explore representational patterns of the United Nations Commission on the Status of Women (CSW). The CSW was the first international body devoted to gender issues and has played a foundational role in the promotion of gender equality globally. The commission was composed entirely of women representatives in its early decades. This trend has changed, with male representation reaching near parity today. I seek to understand when and why they choose to send men representatives. I find that of those that participate, states with the lowest levels of gender equality are less likely to appoint female representatives. I argue that this reflects shallow commitments to gender equality and can at times be used to forestall progress. As gender equality rises, I find that states are more likely to appoint a woman as a representation, until a certain point. At the highest levels of equality, states become again more likely to appoint men. This reflects a more positive trend, in which men are taking a more active role in deconstructing pervasive gender inequalities.