Women Without Arms: Gendered Fighter Constructions in Eritrea and Southern Sudan

Authored by: Annette Weber

Categories: Violent Conflict
Sub-Categories: National Security Forces and Armed Groups
Country: South Sudan, Eritrea
Region: Sub-Saharan Africa
Year: 2011
Citation: Weber, Annette. "Women Without Arms: Gendered Fighter Constructions in Eritrea and Southern Sudan." International Journal of Conflict and Violence 2, no. 5 (2011): 357 – 370.

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An analysis of gendered fighter constructions in the liberation movements in Eritrea and southern Sudan (EPLF and SPLA/M), examining the question of female access to the sphere of masculine fighter constructs and the relevance of this for influence in peacetime affairs. Empirical research in both countries, in particular interviews with participants, reveals that what keeps women out of the sphere of legitimized violence is not some “inherent peacefulness,” but the exclusivist construct of the masculine fighter, which is supported by society. This makes it hard for women to participate in war, and especially to gain full fighter status. An intrinsic link is found between fighter status and access to power in post-conflict state-building from which women, being unable to gain full fighter status, are largely excluded.