Armed conflict in Sri Lanka opened space for Tamil women to change gender roles

December 05, 2016

Contrary to earlier research, this study shows that at times of armed conflict or other social transformations women's roles are not static and ambiguous.

"The armed conflict encouraged women to take up roles not traditionally sanctioned for them," says Doreen Arulanantham Chawade who has written the thesis.

"They became warriors because of the war. They became heads of household because their husbands were living abroad, unemployed, missing or dead. They became political activists because of the extensive injustice towards minorities, and they became peacebuilders to put an end to the war," she says.

Doreen Arulanantham Chawade made her field study in the Jaffna region of Northern Sri Lanka. There she carried out in-depth interviews with local people who had first-hand knowledge of women and Tamil society in the context of armed conflict, e.g. academics, NGO officials, members of the clergy and journalists. She gathered the women's own narratives through in-depth interviews and focus group discussions, and made observations in order to understand the contexts of the areas researched.

She found, through the narratives of women, that not only had women seized an opportunity that the patriarchy had never before offered them, but also that the changed roles prevail after the conflict.

Earlier studies claim that, even if findings show that women take up new roles in times of conflict - because of the forced situation the conflict creates - traditional gender roles usually return once the conflict is over. Doreen Arulanantham Chawade's results points in a different direction, however.

"Using the space that arose during the conflict, women claim they exposed their capacities by assuming multiple roles. And Tamil society was forced to accept women's new roles," she says.

"The 'forced situation' was, therefore, not forced upon women, but forced upon society."

Related Conflict Articles from Brightsurf:

Aboriginal rock art, frontier conflict and a swastika
A hidden Murray River rockshelter speaks volumes about local Aboriginal and European settlement in the Riverland, with symbols of conflict -- including a swastika symbol -- discovered in Aboriginal rock art.

Study of civilians with conflict-related wounds helps improve the care in conflict zones
Researchers at Karolinska Institutet in Sweden have carried out the first randomized trial of civilians with acute conflict-related wounds at two hospitals in areas affected by armed conflict.

Researchers study the intricate link between climate and conflict
New research from the University of Notre Dame is shedding light on the unexpected effects climate change could have on regional instability and violent conflict.

Achieving optimal collaboration when goals conflict
New research suggests that, when two people must work together on a physical task despite conflicting goals, the amount of information available about each other's actions influences how quickly and optimally they learn to collaborate.

Do we trust artificial intelligence agents to mediate conflict? Not entirely
We may listen to facts from Siri or Alexa, or directions from Google Maps or Waze, but would we let a virtual agent enabled by artificial intelligence help mediate conflict among team members?

Tension around autonomy increases family conflict at end of life
Conflict within families can be stressful and confusing, and it can lead to feelings of sadness.

Coca and conflict: the factors fuelling Colombian deforestation
Deforestation in Colombia has been linked to armed conflict and forests' proximity to coca crops, the plant from which cocaine is derived.

Global burden of mental health in conflict settings
People living in countries that have experienced armed conflict are five times more likely to develop anxiety or depression, a University of Queensland research collaboration has found.

Climate change increases potential for conflict and violence
Images of extensive flooding or fire-ravaged communities help us see how climate change is accelerating the severity of natural disasters.

AI systems shed light on root cause of religious conflict
Artificial intelligence can help us to better understand the causes of religious violence and to potentially control it, according to a new Oxford University collaboration.

Read More: Conflict News and Conflict Current Events is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to