Links between women’s empowerment (or lack of) and outbreaks of violent conflict (GSDRC Helpdesk Research Report 1170)

Abstract

Query

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

Key findings

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. Indicators on gender norms which drive conflict might be more useful for early warning (e.g. violent ideas of masculinity).
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. 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).
  7. 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.
  8. 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.
  9. 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.

Citation

Herbert, S. Links between women’s empowerment (or lack of) and outbreaks of violent conflict (GSDRC Helpdesk Research Report 1170). Governance and Social Development Resource Centre, University of Birmingham, Birmingham, UK (2014) 15 pp.

Links between women’s empowerment (or lack of) and outbreaks of violent conflict (GSDRC Helpdesk Research Report 1170)

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