Date of Award

Summer 8-2016

Degree Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Department

Political Science, International Development, and International Affairs

Committee Chair

Dr. Joseph J. St. Marie

Committee Chair Department

Political Science, International Development, and International Affairs

Committee Member 2

Dr. Robert Pauly

Committee Member 2 Department

Political Science, International Development, and International Affairs

Committee Member 3

Dr. David L. Butler

Committee Member 3 Department

Political Science, International Development, and International Affairs

Committee Member 4

Dr. Edward Sayre

Committee Member 4 Department

Political Science, International Development, and International Affairs

Abstract

Women have been affected by violence and conflicts ever since the wars were first waged on earth. Woman as a grieving mother or widow is a common portrayal of war and conflict. However, the common portrayal of women as passive victims does not recount the whole story of women’s experience in conflict/post conflict scenario. Women face countless security challenges in the form of physical, psychological abuses, economic burden and most importantly sexual violence- rape, murder, molestation, kidnapping and sex trafficking. The gendered nature of conflict, thus, increases women’s security challenges and places them at a critical juncture of experiencing and understanding security and peace differently. Understanding women’s experience can offer critical perspectives in analyzing conflict and developing strategies for peace building.

There is a lack of research on women’s experience of (in)security in conflict and their activism for building peace and security in the mainstream IR, Peace and Conflict studies . Assessing this gap in research, this study looks at the security challenges women face in conflict, and their role in addressing those insecurities and building peace at the grassroots. This study focuses on these issues in the context of Assam, Northeast India.

India’s northeast region has been the cauldron of ethnic violence and political conflicts since 1979. In the midst of armed militarization and political movements, women’s security is at risk. Using feminist perspectives of security and gender this study explores women’s myriad security challenges in Assam since 1979. This study further explores the role of women in grassroots peace building. It takes into consideration three women’s groups and their activism towards grassroots peace and capacity building. This study uses ‘feminist’ social capital theory to access women’s group activism towards peace and security building. It is situated at the intersection of feminist IR theories, peace studies and feminist social capital theory. The feminist scholars have discussed the concepts of feminist security, peace and the connection between women’s activism and peace building. This study argues that women’s activism in conflict society increases social capital and increasing social capital in conducive to peace and capacity building at the grassroots.

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