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CISSM Global Forum | Women and Rebel Group Legitimacy

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Women’s participation in rebel groups and the violence perpetrated against women by rebel groups both emerge from and reflect the groups’ ideological commitment. Women’s inclusion thus affects how domestic and international audiences including civilians, governments, and international organizations perceive the activities of specific armed groups. In this talk we unpack how different types of non-state armed groups have used women to convey messages, build a reputation, and develop legitimacy.


Dr. Robert Ulrich Nagel is a post-doctoral fellow at the Georgetown Institute for Women, Peace and Security (GIWPS). His research at GIWPS focuses on the gendered impacts on peacekeeping effectiveness and the intersection of the Women, Peace and Security agenda and International Humanitarian Law. Prior to joining GIWPS, Robert earned his PhD in International Conflict Analysis at the University of Kent. His research explores the conflict dynamics that contribute and result from sexual violence, their consequences for international security, conflict resolution, and post-conflict stability. Robert’s research is published in International Studies Quarterly, the Journal of Conflict Resolution, the Journal of Peace Research, Electoral Studies, and Security Studies. He has won the 2019 Cedric Smith Prize for the best peace and conflict studies paper by a UK or ROI-based PhD student and the International Studies Association 2020 Dina Zinnes Award. He is also a member of the editorial team for International Peacekeeping and a member of the Consultative Group for the Sexual Violence in Armed Conflict dataset.


Hilary Matfess is a PhD candidate in Yale University's Political Science Department and a 2020-2021 United States Institute for Peace (USIP) Peace Scholar Fellow. She is also a Senior Associate (non-resident) at the Center for Strategic and International Studies' (CSIS) Africa Program and a Fellow at the George Washington University Program on Extremism. Her research is at the intersection of security, gender, and governance, with a focus on sub-Saharan Africa. Her work has been published in International Security, Security Studies, Stability, Studies in Conflict and Terrorism, and African Studies Review. Her first book, Women and the War on Boko Haram, was published in 2017 with Zed Publishers.

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