Links between women’s empowerment (or lack of) and outbreaks of violent conflict

Question

What evidence exists for links between women’s empowerment (or lack of) and outbreaks of violent conflict?

Summary

  • A number of studies quantitatively find a strong correlation between levels of gender inequality and conflict. They find that gender inequality increases the likelihood that a state will have internal conflict and international disputes.
  • There is substantial evidence that traditional patriarchal gender identities lead to militaristic and violent conflict approaches. Women also can be viewed as ‘war bounty’ or as a target to attack (or preserve) traditional culture.
  • Indicators on gender norms which drive conflict might be more useful for early warning (e.g. violent ideas of masculinity).
  • In regards to the impact of political and civic empowerment (or lack of) on conflict, evidence suggests: the more years a country has had female suffrage for before an international dispute, the more likely it is to resolve the dispute without using military violence; countries with lower levels of women’s representation in parliament are more likely to use military violence to settle international disputes and are at higher risk of intrastate armed conflict.
  • In regards to the impact of conflict on political and civic empowerment, evidence suggests: before and during conflict women often organise solidarity groups; women have been unable to maintain gains made during conflict into political representation; violence against ‘political’ women is common.
  • In regards to the impact of economic empowerment (or lack of) on outbreaks of conflict, evidence suggests: countries with higher female participation in the labour force exhibit lower levels of international violence; better gender equality can indirectly increase a country’s stability through its impact on country wealth/income (GDP).
  • In regards to the impact of conflict on economic empowerment, evidence suggests: during conflict and immediately post-conflict, women are likely to experience greater economic participation; effects of conflict on women’s economic activity differs by age and life status.
  • In regards to the impact of social empowerment (or lack of) on conflict, evidence suggests: countries with high levels of national violence against women and girls have been more likely to experience armed conflict; countries with high fertility rates are more likely to use force in international disputes.
  • In regards to the impact of conflict on social empowerment evidence suggests: conflict increases female-headed households; levels of gender based violence are higher during and after conflict.

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