Female Participation and Civil War Relapse

Authored by: Jacqueline H.R. Demeritt, Angela D. Nichols, and Eliza G. Kelly

Categories: Conflict Prevention, Violent Conflict
Sub-Categories: Peacemaking, Post-Conflict Reconstruction
Region: No Region
Year: 2014
Citation: Jacqueline H.R. Demeritt, Angela D. Nichols & Eliza G. Kelly (2014) Female Participation and Civil War Relapse, Civil Wars, 16:3, 346-368.

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A large literature demonstrates that civil war is recurrent: States that have already experienced such conflict tend to relapse back into war. How might this ‘conflict trap’ be escaped? We answer this question with a focus on gender. Women tend to exist at the margins of society, and postwar society often perpetuates prewar values. Yet this continuity is not inevitable. We argue that the end of a civil war opens a window of opportunity through which women may increasingly participate in society, economics, and politics. Given women’s preference for peace and aversion to political violence, we expect this increased participation to reduce the risk of relapse to civil war. Large-N analyses support our argument, and in particular suggest that increases in female literacy and parliamentary representation reduce the risk of relapse.