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date: 17 January 2019

Abstract and Keywords

A key objective for the women, peace, and security agenda going forward is to disaggregate the experiences of women as a group, and to understand how gender functions in conflict contexts. This chapter focuses on the diverse roles of female combatants in rebel groups to gain insight into how power is distributed, not only between men and women, or combatants and civilians, but within groups. Rebel groups are characterized by military and political apparatuses that are built side by side and often entangled. Organizational power structures are often dominated by men, but not exclusively so. Using interviews and archival data from the Sierra Leone Civil War case study, this chapter delivers an analysis of women’s experiences in rebel movements. It explores the individual trajectories of mobilization and victimization in Sierra Leone. Next, it examines the unique experiences of female combatants, before situating them in the broader political context. Finally, the chapter considers cases of sexual violence, intimate partnerships, conflict among women, and the political entrepreneurship of elite women to understand female participation in rebellion in its entirety.

Keywords: rebellion, agency, female combatants, Sierra Leone, empirical research, interviews

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