Till startsida
To content Read more about how we use cookies on gu.se

Sexual violence is a driver of women's political mobilization

News: Jun 04, 2019

Sexual violence in armed conflict does not necessarily silence women. On the contrary, sexual violence can be a driver of women’s political mobilization for peace and women’s rights, a dissertation from the University of Gothenburg shows.

"The findings are encouraging for Sweden’s feminist foreign policy, which emphasizes gender-sensitive approaches to armed conflict and women’s empowerment," says the author of the thesis Anne-Kathrin Kreft.

As the 2018 Nobel Peace Prize to Denis Mukwege and Nadia Murad reminds us, sexual violence in armed conflict remains a global threat to peace and security, especially for women and girls. It spreads fear and causes unthinkable physical and emotional harms to its victims.

For these reasons, previous research has generally assumed that sexual violence in conflict inhibits women’s political participation. But this paints a misleading picture. A new dissertation reveals a previously unexamined link between gendered conflict violence and gains in women’s agency.

"My analyses reveal that women mobilize in civil society at higher levels during conflicts with widespread sexual violence compared to conflicts with no or few reports of sexual violence."

Colombia as an example

To examine the implications for women´s agency, she carried out four months of fieldwork in Colombia, a priority country in Swedish development cooperation. Colombia has been in a state of internal armed conflict since the 1960s, and sexual violence perpetrated by the military, different rebel groups and paramilitary forces has been widespread. At its highest, 2,500 cases were reported for the year 2003 alone, most of them against women.

Anne-Kathrin Kreft interviewed 33 activists representing 24 women’s organizations and victims’ associations in different parts of the country. Several of these operate with financial or technical support provided by the Swedish government.

"The activists saw sexual violence perpetrated by armed actors as deeply gendered. For them, sexual violence is closely linked to, and an expression of, patriarchal norms that devalue, oppress and disadvantage women in society. This is why they are convinced that wide-ranging transformations in gender norms and relations are necessary to make Colombia safer for women, including from conflict-related sexual violence."

A broader fight for women´s rights

Some women’s organizations and victims’ associations formed specifically in response to this violence, while many existing organizations took on conflict-related sexual violence as a priority issue.

"Reflecting the gendered threat sexual violence poses, much of the civil society activism also extends to a broader fight for women’s rights and gender equality," says Anne-Kathrin Kreft.

More information

Title of the thesis: Sexual Violence in Armed Conflict: Threat, Mobilization and Gender Norms.

An abstract is digitally published: http://hdl.handle.net/2077/59909

Dissertation: Friday 14th of June 2019, at 1:15 PM, University main building, room Torgny Segerstedtsalen, Universitetsplatsen 1, Gothenburg.

Contact: Anne-Kathrin Kreft, email: anne-kathrin.kreft@gu.se, phone: +46 073-7318903.

Picture: Bogotá has in recent years been only marginally affected by the Colombian armed conflict, but crime and security presence in the city are high. Photo: Anne-Kathrin Kreft



  • OPEN POSITIONS: 3-4 doctoral studentship positions in Political Science

    [2 Dec 2019] Type of employment: 4 years Extent: 100% (full-time) Location: Department of Political Science, Gothenburg First Day of Employment: 2020-09-01 Closing date 2019-02-04

  • To study in Shanghai was a rare and absolutely tremendous opportunity

    [29 Nov 2019] Amalia Brandt Hjerstedt spent one year of her double degree master¿s programme at the Fudan University in Shanghai. To study in China has taught her the advantage of mobility and cultural diversity, which is useful within the Business Development industry in Hong Kong where she works today.

  • 10 million to CeCAR from FORMAS

    [21 Nov 2019] On November 20 The Swedish Research Council for Sustainable Development, Formas, granted two new projects at the Centre for Collective Action Research (CeCAR).

  • Almost 5 million in new grants to V-Dem

    [21 Nov 2019] V-Dem has been awarded three new grants to continue established work with three organizations.

  • Two students received the first Sustainability Thesis Award, GUSTA

    [15 Nov 2019] The University of Gothenburg's Sustainability Thesis Award, GUSTA, was delivered for the first time at the Act Sustainable week final event. The GUSTA award recognizes outstanding theses written on sustainable development related topics. The award 2019 was delivered to Ryan Davis at the department of Political Science and Sandra Sternad Fackel at the school of Global Studies.

More publications

Page Manager: Webbredaktionen|Last update: 8/11/2010

The University of Gothenburg uses cookies to provide you with the best possible user experience. By continuing on this website, you approve of our use of cookies.  What are cookies?