My research focuses primarily on sexual and gender-based violence, political violence, civil society activism, and social transformations in war. This includes also the content, implementation of, and contestations within UN Security Council Resolution 1325 and the Women, Peace and Security (WPS) framework. In addition, I have an interest in women’s rights, international responses to armed conflict, and in conflict dynamics more broadly.

My research combines cross-national statistical analysis, qualitative fieldwork and analysis, and survey experiments.

I am an alumna of the Norwegian Research School on Peace and Conflict.

Postdoc Project

Women’s Activism under Attack: Backlash against Civil Society in Conflict-Affected Settings

This project seeks to improve our understanding of backlash against women’s civil society activism in post-conflict settings. Women’s activism can be crucial to ending violence and constructing an inclusive peace built on greater gender equality. Unfortunately, it is often confronted with violent and non-violent backlash, such as threats and physical violence. Despite its significance, this backlash remains heavily understudied, and we know little about where, how, why and in what forms it occurs. The project combines an examination of global developments with an in-depth analysis of the Colombian case to (1) achieve conceptual and theoretical clarity about the scope, manifestations and the gendered nature of such backlash and (2) systematically examine its patterns and drivers. With a combination of qualitative and quantitative methods, the project aims to identify how backlash relates to gender-based conflict violence, societal violence, and transnationally salient trends of autocratization, right-wing populism and anti-feminist mobilization.

Work in Progress

Sexual Violence and Gendered Protection: The Salience of Traditional Gender Norms (with Mattias Agerberg)

Abstract: At a time of MeToo and counter-movements warning of the dangers of “gender ideology,” gender is both salient and politicized. While equality between men and women and a rethinking of gender roles are globally on the rise, traditional gender norms continue to have traction. One particularly salient notion is that of the female victim in need of (masculinist) protection, which also restricts the conceived space for women’s agency. In this paper, we explore the salience of such traditional gender norms in settings of armed conflict. Here, we argue, norms of women’s agency and women’s protection are in particular tension, as the unprecedented global awareness of conflict-related sexual violence has spotlighted women’s victimization. Both the protection of civilians and gender issues in armed conflict have come to be closely associated with sexual violence. We designed a vignette experiment to test our theoretical expectations that 1) people are more likely to support intervention in conflicts with high prevalence of sexual violence and 2) global norms of women’s participation are more likely to be activated in conflicts with prevalent sexual violence. We carried out equivalent survey experiments in the United States, the United Kingdom and Sweden. We find support for our hypotheses, with some variation across the three countries. Generally, Western publics are more likely to perceive women as victims rather than agents in conflict, and they support intervention at higher levels in armed conflicts with widespread sexual violence.

Challenges in Confronting Sexual Violence in Colombia

Abstract: Based on interviews carried out in 2018, this paper examines what norms, structures and practices stand in the way of civil society and government attempts to confront sexual violence in Colombia, whether perpetrated in the armed conflict or in the “private” sphere. The focus is on how patriarchal norms permeating formal and informal institutions perpetuate gendered power differentials, impede the pursuit of justice and exacerbate the challenges of addressing the physical and psychological consequences this violence has for its victims. The paper reflects critically on the different ways and arenas in which patriarchal norms are salient and reproduced, including through the conscious and unconscious complicity of women, accentuating the role of power in these processes.

Is Free Trade Good for Women? How Trade Agreements Affect Women’s Rights (with Evgeny Postnikov)

Abstract: The effect of trade liberalization on women’s rights has been hotly contested. Some argue that free trade has an adverse impact on women in developing countries by undermining public services, eroding social protection and deepening gender inequalities. Others claim that free trade generates economic growth, creates economic opportunities and has many positive spillover effects on women’s social and economic participation. We argue that the potentially negative effect of trade liberalization on women can be offset by trade policies designed to reduce economic and social gender imbalances. Conditionality in North-South preferential trade agreements (PTAs) containing certain labor and human rights provisions, such as gender equality chapters and core labor standards, can lead to a race to the top in women’s rights protection in the developing world. We assess this claim empirically using statistical evidence drawn from the analysis of data on PTAs and their gender clauses. Our study is the first to establish an empirical link between PTA design and women’s rights, suggesting new policies are needed to better balance economic globalization with social goals in the current protectionist era.