Today I talked to Ora Szekely about Insurgent Women: Female Combatants in Civil Wars (Georgetown UP, 2019), which she co-edited with Jessica Trisko Darden and Alexis Henshaw.
Why do women go to war in non-state armed groups? Despite the reality that female combatants exist the world over, we still know relatively little about who these women are, what motivates them to take up arms, how they are utilized by armed groups, and what happens to them when war ends. Through a comparative analysis of women's participation in different non-state armed groups, Insurgent Women addresses women's involvement in civil war at three different points in the conflict lifecycle: recruitment, conflict participation, and conflict resolution. By examining the ongoing civil war in Ukraine, the conflicts in the Kurdish regions of Turkey, Syria, and Iraq, and the civil war in Colombia, the authors find that there is no single profile of a female combatant. Rather, women's roles in and motivations for joining insurgent groups vary. The practical and theoretical implications of Insurgent Women suggest that policymakers and scholars must pay more attention to the complex motivations and roles that female combatants play in waging war in order to secure peace. This is an accessible and timely work that will be a useful introduction to another side of contemporary conflict.
Dilan Okcuoglu is post-doctoral fellow at American University.