2010

The dominant narrative of female involvement in political and revolutionary conflict is that of victimhood. This script has framed both the research and policy paradigms of female involvement in conflict. Hence, women’s participation has typically been perceived as minor or unimportant with highly visible instances (e.g. suicide bombers or belligerents) viewed as isolated and abnormal deviations. Furthermore, female involvement is typically attributed to personal and emotional factors – political/ideological commitment or factors beyond the individual are seldom considered. In this way, female agency, responsibility, and credibility as a belligerent or terrorist are consistently undermined. In practice this has meant that women are often prevented from engaging in post-conflict processes, particularly disarmament, demobilisation and reintegration programs. In the research context, the predominant focus has been on the personal reasons for women’s violent operations, rather than on developing and refining theory. As such, no overarching theory of female involvement in political and revolutionary conflict existed. Methodologically, speculative and anecdotal approaches dominate in the absence of empirical research examining population level trends. Therefore, the purpose of this doctoral research was to empirically develop a theoretical framework of female involvement in contemporary political and revolutionary conflict that adequately accounted for the spectrum of female participation and the macro-level, meso-level, and micro-level factors that may influence their involvement. This project consisted of, first, developing the theoretical framework and, second, testing the framework. Three empirical quantitative studies utilising secondary data comprised the theory development stage.