Background and Motivation for this Project

After a significant decrease in the number of civil wars and armed conflicts after the end of the Cold War, numbers have increased significantly since 2013. In 2020, the Uppsala Conflict Data Program (2020) reported 55 ongoing armed conflicts. Civilians are heavily affected by violence, displacement, property destruction, and a deterioration in access to basic services. However, beyond their destructive impact, armed conflicts can also destabilize unequal social, political and gender relations and norms, thus potentially providing formerly marginalized groups (e.g., ethnic minorities, women) opportunities to achieve more rights, decision-making power, and influence in social, political and economic terms. Such "positive" by-effects of armed conflicts are uncertain, but under specific conditions (e.g. international support, changes in gender demography) these empowerment effects may be more likely.

The aim of this project is to understand if, when and how armed conflicts contribute to women's empowerment and alter power relations between women and men. More specifically, we will address the following sub-questions:

  1. Which forms of direct and indirect violence are most influential in changing women's empowerment?

  2. Do changes in women's empowerment occur at different levels (e.g., in the houshold, the community, local politics)?

  3. Through which mechanisms and under what conditions are changes in women's empowerment more likely?