Research Design and

Empirical Approach

The empirical analysis of the theoretical framework requires novel granular data at the individual and community level from countries that have experienced civil wars in the recent past. Systematic information at this disaggregated level of analysis is barely available in existing statistics and surveys (e.g., Demographic Health Surveys, Multiple Indicator Cluster Surveys, Afrobarometer, Latinobarómetro, LAPOP). Especially, information on individual exposure to civil wars, uptake of new roles and responsibilities and more advanced measurement techniques (e.g., list experiments, conjoint experiments) is not available and requires a novel research design and data collection strategy.

Case Selection Strategy

To empirically assess the research questions and hypotheses, WarEffects will collect new individual-level and community-level quantitative survey data in three countries: Colombia, DR Congo, and Sri Lanka. While the project’s main goal is to explore the micro-level effects of civil wars and women’s empowerment in a representative population-based sample within each country, it also aims to compare between them, and generalize beyond these three country cases. The case selection strategy reflects this endeavour by leveraging cross-case variation along four key categories: world region, conflict dimensions, prevalence of sexual violence by armed groups, the extent of women’s participation in armed groups, and the time since the conflict ended. Replicating similar findings under very different country-level conditions constitutes a particularly hard test for the theoretical framework under investigation.

Phase 1: Explorative qualitative research

In the first phase we will i) further deepen our understanding of each country’s history, geographic and temporal variation of armed conflict and local and national discourses on women’s empowerment before, during and after conflict. This phase comprises both desk-based preparatory research as well as field research in each country. Based on a comprehensive understanding, the survey design will be contextualized to each country while maintaining comparability across the three cases as high as possible.

Phase 2: Quantitative data collection

In each country case, we will design two types of quantitative surveys: an individual-level opinion survey and a village-level survey. The surveys will collect novel micro-level data among others on people’s civil war exposure, gender roles and attitudes across the household, community and local political to empirically test the refined theoretical framework and hypotheses. Moreover, in the survey we will pioneer innovative experimental techniques to increase respondents’ privacy and response rates and causal identification.

Phase 3: Follow-up field work and ground-truthing

The qualitative field research in the third phase aims to critically examine and ground-truth the findings from the survey data analyses. For instance, questions regarding the interactions between changes in women’s empowerment at the household, community and local political level will be explored and complemented through semi-structured interviews and focus group discussions. Moreover we will use this phase share and engage with our results more broadly with local communities and stakeholders.