Introduction and overview
Why do women decide to join rebel groups? What factors explain why some groups appear to attract such large numbers of female ﬁghters and supporters, while others appear to attract almost none? This question is deceptive in its simplicity, because in attempting to answer it, it soon becomes obvious how little we know about women’s contributions to internal armed conﬂict on a global scale. This lack of understanding about women in civil wars is indicative of larger issues within the ﬁeld of international relations (IR) generally, where the trend toward data-driven scholarship and the scientiﬁc study of international processes has struggled to meaningfully incorporate gender. A result of this is that scholarly research tends to perpetuate – in a manner either outright or implied – the stereotype that conﬂict is the domain of men. Consider these examples of statements from recent scholarship on armed rebellion:
The [surveyed] noncombatant group overrepresents men … relative to the general population.