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When Women Fight: Unemployment, Territorial Control and the Prevalence of Female Combatants in Insurgent Organizations


When Women Fight: Unemployment, Territorial Control and the Prevalence of Female Combatants in Insurgent Organizations

Abstract: 

Recent scholarship suggests that the prevalence of female fighters is determined by various demand and supply factors. On one hand, the voluntary supply of female fighters is dependent on women who are driven by various motivations, ranging from grievances to ideology. On the other hand, violent organizations frequently employ female fighters to gain important tactical and strategic advantages. Focusing on insurgent groups, we posit that two situational factors are critical in determining female participation in combat; lower opportunity costs for women to participate, and a high demand for armed fighters by groups. We argue that high levels of unemployment amongst the female labour force within a state result in lower opportunity costs for women to join an insurgency, while territorial control by groups generates a higher need for armed fighters. Both of these conditions generate the optimal conditions for women to participate in combat roles. We test our arguments by using logistical regression models on a sample of 140 insurgent groups globally from 1998 to 2012. Our findings provide support for our hypotheses that both high levels of female unemployment, and territorial control by insurgent groups increase the likelihood of the prevalence of women fighters in insurgencies.

Publication Information

Full Citation: 

Asal, Victor and Amira Jadoon. 2019. "When Women Fight: Unemployment, Territorial Control and the Prevalence of Female Combatants in Insurgent Organizations." Dynamics of Asymmetric Conflict (December). https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/17467586.2019.1700542

START Author(s): 
Victor Asal
Publication URL: 
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