Working Paper
Civil wars and stumbling of patriarchal societies

The reconstruction of gender relations in post-conflict Liberia

This research project traces how women’s participation in the Liberian civil wars, as combatants and peace agents, reconstructs gender relations in the post-civil war context.

The current literature examines the role of women in the governance of rebel groups, emphasizing how women operate within the command structure. While there is a growing trend in assessing the role of women in organized armed groups, there are few accounts of how their participation in the conflict may undermine patriarchal norms that have long supported males’ domination of women.

This is an important mechanism because most post-conflict societies tend to mirror the scope of warring groups. Using in-depth interview data, we examine how women’s wartime experiences weaken Liberia’s patriarchal norms and the extent to which gender relations have been reconstructed after the conflict.

We argue that women’s engagement in Liberian civil wars as combatants and peace activists reconstituted gender norms and gender relations after the wars.