Title Selective Application of Gender Norms? Wartime Sexual Violence and Responses to Civil Conflict
Post date 10/27/2017
C1 Background and Explanation of Rationale

Global gender norms of women’s participation in (post-)conflict settings have been rapidly evolving since the United Nations Security Council authorized its landmark resolution on Women, Peace and Security in 2000. Nonetheless, traditional gender conceptions revolving around women as victims rather than agents continue to have traction and have halted the internalization and undermined the universality of norms promoting women’s agency. As a result, global gender norms are activated and implemented unevenly. We designed a vignette experiment to test our theoretical expectation that global norms of women’s participation are more likely to be activated when a conflict emerges as visibly gendered in terms of prevalent sexual violence. We suggest that sexual violence serves as a heuristic for international actors in determining the gendered nature of a conflict, due to the massive increase in global awareness of this type of violence. The vignette experiment has been selected for inclusion in the 2017 European Values Study survey in Sweden (data collection under way), and we plan to carry out equivalent survey experiments in the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom and Germany to draw more universal conclusions about the state of global gender norms.

C2 What are the hypotheses to be tested?

The UN Security Council passed in 2000 its milestone resolution on Women, Peace and Security, whose principles of women's protection and women's participation have been reiterated and elaborated in a series of follow-up resolutions. At the same time, wartime sexual violence rose on the global agenda in the wake of the genocide in Rwanda and the civil war in Bosnia. Media coverage of conflict-related sexual violence has since increased rapidly. These developments have had two consequences: 1) sexual violence is increasingly viewed as a grave problem in conflict and 2) normative contention has arisen between women's protection and women's participation prescriptions, to the detriment of the latter. Accordingly, the notion that gender matters in a variety of ways and that women’s participation is a necessity in all (post-)conflict settings has not been internalized by the majority of international actors and observers. Even though virtually all conflicts are highly gendered in different dimensions – e.g. male-dominated fighting and the disproportionate displacement of women – sexual violence has come to be seen as the foremost issue affecting women in conflict situations. In other words, a conflict is considerably less likely to be perceived as gendered in the absence of documented widespread sexual violence, and hence less likely to elicit a "gendered response" by international actors and observes. This yields an expectation of the uneven activation of global gender norms:

H1: Respondents are more likely to support international intervention in a conflict with widespread sexual violence compared to a conflict with overall widespread violence.

H2: Respondents are more likely to acknowledge the importance of enhancing women’s participation in peace processes in a conflict with widespread sexual violence compared to a conflict with overall widespread violence.

We are further interested in the relationship between ethnic and sexual violence. We seek to explore if – as has been suggested in the existing literature on the inclusion of groups in peace agreements (Bell and O’Rourke 2010) – ethnic violence sidelines gender concerns. Previous literature has dedicated very little time and space to the question of whether ethnic concerns crowd out gender concerns. This part of our experimental design is therefore somewhat more exploratory and may lead to a more rigorous and detailed follow-up study. We expect that:

H3: Respondents are more likely to support international intervention in a conflict with widespread sexual violence compared to a conflict with widespread ethnic violence.

H4: Respondents are more likely to acknowledge the importance of enhancing women’s participation in peace processes in a conflict with widespread sexual violence compared to a conflict with widespread ethnic violence.

Finally, we introduce in the Swedish experiment a second moving part in the form of expressed concern about the escalating violence by Nordic partners. Given the high attention to gender concerns in the foreign policies of the more gender-equal Nordic states, we are curious whether the positioning of Nordic partners with regards to the conflict-related sexual violence has any effect on acknowledging the importance of enhancing women’s participation in peace processes. Here, we have a weak expectation of a positive interaction effect between a widespread sexual violence conflict and expressed concern by Nordic partners:

H5: Respondents are more likely to acknowledge the importance of enhancing women’s participation in peace processes in a conflict with widespread sexual violence compared to a conflict with overall widespread violence, especially if Nordic partners express concern about the escalating violence.

H6: Respondents are more likely to acknowledge the importance of enhancing women’s participation in peace processes in a conflict with widespread sexual violence compared to a conflict with widespread ethnic violence, especially if Nordic partners express concern about the escalating violence.

C3 How will these hypotheses be tested? *

Randomization makes our treatment assignment independent of potential outcomes (Angrist and Pischke, 2009). Therefore, a simple difference-in-means estimator will yield an unbiased estimate of the average treatment effect (ATE). We opt to analyze our first outcome of support for intervention using OLS, treating our 7-point dependent variable as continuous, with the possibility of ordinal logistic regression in robustness checks. Our second outcome captures the rank-ordering of different priority areas for engagement in post-conflict settings, one of which is the inclusion and empowerment of women in the peace process. Because of the nature of this outcome variable, we will employ ordinal logistic regression.

We do not currently know exactly what individual-level covariates will be collected in our different experiments, given that one of them is included in a National European Values Study survey. We do not expect the inclusion of any additional variables in our model to substantially affect our treatment effects since assignment to treatment is independent of other covariates. However, including additional variables might make our estimates more precise (Angrist and Pischke, 2009). Subsequent models could therefore also include individual-level covariates like age, gender, and education.

For the exploratory mechanism-part of the analysis we will conduct mediation analysis to check if the treatment effect of interest (for example for the sexual violence treatment) is plausibly mediated by our mechanism-variables. For this analysis we will mainly rely on the framework in (Imai et al., 2011).

C4 Country Sweden, United Kingdom, Germany, Canada, United States of America
C5 Scale (# of Units) 1,000 - 1,200 respondents per survey
C6 Was a power analysis conducted prior to data collection? Yes
C7 Has this research received Insitutional Review Board (IRB) or ethics committee approval? not provided by authors
C8 IRB Number not provided by authors
C9 Date of IRB Approval not provided by authors
C10 Will the intervention be implemented by the researcher or a third party? European Values Study for the Swedish experiment; the other experiments will be implemented online
C11 Did any of the research team receive remuneration from the implementing agency for taking part in this research? No
C12 If relevant, is there an advance agreement with the implementation group that all results can be published? Yes
C13 JEL Classification(s) not provided by authors