Research page

The Gender Dimensions of Social Conflicts, Armed Violence and Peacebuilding


Research in International Relations and Gender Studies shows that gender inequality is correlated with a country’s tendency to solve conflicts violently, and that processes of conflict escalation involve a militarization of masculinities. However, there is limited knowledge on how gender relations interlink with social conflict, armed violence and peacebuilding at the micro-level. Civil war research has demonstrated that the spread and intensity of violence varies on the ground, suggesting that the capacity of communities for conflict management is an important factor that renders them more or less vulnerable to armed conflict. The project starts from the assumption that intersectionally gendered power relations affect a community’s capacity to manage conflicts and prevent violence. We call conflict management and peacebuilding practices intersectionally gendered when they draw on constructions of femininity and masculinity in conjunction with age, ethnicity, religion and other identity categories.


Inequality and Conflict. Beyond Us and Them

Research context and findings of project The Gender Dimensions of Social Conflicts, Armed Violence and Peacebuilding

Gender and everyday peacebuilding: Insights from Indonesia and Nigeria

Taking stock of results from six years of feminist research with conflict-affected communities in Indonesia and Nigeria, this video aims at sharing knowledge and experiences on particularly promising contributions to peacebuilding at the micro-level.



The project pursues two goals. It seeks to:

  • develop a better understanding of the ways in which gender informs conflict management and peacebuilding practices;
  • influence local, national and international peacebuilders to improve their practices through the targeted circulation of contextualized and transferrable knowledge.

Our research is designed as a micro-level study of intersectionally gendered conflict management and peacebuilding practices, comparing communities in three regions of Indonesia and Nigeria that have experienced different types of conflict. We explore the following two overarching research questions:

  • What is the connection between gender relations, the level of violence a community is exposed to in a conflict setting, and its capacity for violence prevention?
  • How does gender inform peacebuilding practices in intersection with other identity categories and to what effect?

We aim to identify different types of local conflict management and peacebuilding practices and their links to extra-local norms and initiatives with particular attention to the role that intersectionally gendered identities play in these practices.

Project team


Team in Indonesia

  • Prof. Wening Udasmoro, Universitas Gadjah Mada, Yogyakarta
  • Ms. Arifah Rahmawati, Universitas Gadjah Mada, Yogyakarta, Center for Security and Peace Studies
  • Mr. Tabrani Yunis, Local Researcher, Aceh
  • Ms. Raihal Fajri, Local Researcher, Aceh
  • Mr. Rizal Jemmy Talakua, Local Researcher, Ambon
  • Ms. Restia Christianty

Team in Nigeria

Team in Switzerland

  • Prof. Elisabeth Prügl, Professor in International Relations and Political Science at the Graduate Institute
  • Dr. Christelle Rigual, Research Coordinator and Researcher, The Graduate Institute
  • Dr. Jana Krause, Former Lead Researcher, Co-Investigator, and Coordinator, University of Amsterdam. Jana Krause conceptualised the project and wrote the project proposal drawing on findings from her Ph.D. dissertation.
  • Dr. Rahel Kunz, Associate Researcher, University of Lausanne
  • Dr. Henri Myrttinen, Associate Researcher, International Alert










  • Gosewinkel, Merle. and Kunz, Rahel. 2014 ‘Gender and Security Sector Reform: A First Step in the Right Direction, or Gender Mainstreaming Gone Wrong?’ in: Women Peacemakers Programme, Gender and Militarism: Analysing the Links to Strategize for Peace. The Hague.
  • Kunz, Rahel. 2014. ‘Gender and Security Sector Reform: Gendering Differently?’, International Peacekeeping, 21:5, 604-622.
  • Mäki-Rahkola, Anne and Henri Myrttinen. 2014. Reliable Professionals, Sensitive Dads and Tough Fighters: A Critical Look at Performances and Discourses of Finnish Peacekeeper Masculinities. International Feminist Journal of Politics 16.3: 470-489.
  • Prügl, Elisabeth. 2014. Feminist Interventions in International Relations. In Under Development: Gender, eds. Isabelle Guérin, Hélène Guétat, and Christine Verschuur. London: Palgrave.
  • In French 2015: Les interventions féministes dans le camp des relations internationales. In Sous le développement, le genre, eds. Isabelle Guérin, Hélène Guétat, and Christine Verschuur. Paris: IRD, coll. “Objectifs Suds,”.
  • Prügl, Elisabeth. March 2014. Book Review. Laura Sjoberg, Gendering Global Conflict: Toward a Feminist Theory of War. Perspectives on Politics 12, 1: 176-177.


  • Prügl, Elisabeth. 2013. Gender Expertise as Feminist Strategy. (An Analysis of Security Sector Training Manuals). In Feminist Strategies in International Governance, eds. Gülay Çaglar, Elisabeth Prügl and Susanne Zwingel. London: Routledge, pp. 57-73.
  • Udasmoro, Wening. 2013. “La langue de jeunes auteurs dans la construction de l’Indonesien”. Dans la revue Banian (France) No 16
  • Udasmoro, Wening & Ali Shahab. 2013. “Ideological Contestation in French Literature during the Second World War: A Critical Discourse Analysis Approach” in Litera Journal, October.
  • Udasmoro, Wening. 2013. “Symbolic Violence in Everyday Narration” in Asian Journal of Social Sciences and Humanities Vol 2 No 3, August, pp. 155-165


  • Udasmoro, Wening. 2012 La politique de l’avortement durant la periode post-suhartoiste en Indonesie, in Mousson (Journal in France), Aix Marseille, No 20, pp. 58-83


  • Udasmoro, Wening. 2010, The Discourse of Subaltern in the Intercultural Society: Gender and the Veil in France (in Indonesian). In Journal of Sociology, Gadjah Mada University

World map             Nigeria states

Indonesia provinces


Our research contributes to the proliferating literature that complicates the narrative of peaceful women and war-prone men. We have found that women and men take on multiple and often unexpected roles: in addition to following stereotypical roles, women in our case communities also have become heads of households, secured the financial viability of the family, supported men in conflict by providing logistics, and joined fighting forces or encouraged their children to do so. Conversely, in addition to appearing as fighters, men have fled violence and recruitment into militias and have worked to encourage and build peace

Preliminary analysis of our interview data suggests that unequal gender relations do not cause processes of violent conflict and (de)escalation independently of other processes. Rather, they inflect these processes in different ways, and several gendered models of conflict management and peacebuilding are emerging. One model draws on masculine authority: a community board of all-male leaders who established highly authoritarian rule, tightly circumscribing people’s movements, actions, and communications, thus preventing violence by restricting freedom. Another model draws on women’s ties across communal divides to produce a cross-communal identity, using appeals to this identity to heal wounds and providing support in times of need. Gender thus functions as a resource in peacebuilding and masculinity and femininity become productive for peace in different ways.

Advisory Council


  • Pr Keith Krause, Professor in International Relations and Political Science, Centre on Conflict, Development and Peacebuilding, The Graduate Institute
  • Madeleine Rees, Secretary General of the Women's International League for Peace and Freedom
  • Dr Fenneke Reysoo, Senior Lecturer in Anthropology and Sociology of Development, The Graduate Institute
  • Pr Jacqui True, Professor of Politics and International Relations and an Australian Research Council Future Fellow at Monash University, Australia
  • Nahla Vajli, Deputy Chief of the Peace and Security section at UN Women



This research project is funded by the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC) and the Swiss National Science Foundation (SNSF) within their joint Swiss Programme for Research on Global Issues for Development (r4d Programme).

The main goal of the r4d Programme is the generation of new knowledge and the application of research results that contribute to solving global problems and securing public goods in poor countries within the framework of global sustainable development.


Programme for Research on Global Issues for Development, r4d Programme  Swiss Agency for Development Cooperation  Swiss National Science Foundation



Banner: photo taken in an internally displaced people camp in Nigeria. © Jeanine Reutemann

Administrative Assistant