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Abstract

Over the last decade, females have been an integral part of fighting forces in both international conflicts and in armed struggle in at least 38 internal conflicts. While some scholars argue that recent wars have thrust women into new roles, enabling them to transform their social situations, identities and destinies, others question whether females achieve ‘emancipation’ through active participation in warfare. The Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) in Sri Lanka that has been engaged in conflict with the Sri Lankan government since 1983, and actively recruits female cadres, provides an interesting context to explore issues of female empowerment in the context of armed struggle. Drawing from interviews with four Sri Lankans living in Canada, this paper traces the perceived extent of female emancipation within the LTTE. While the participation of females in unconventional military roles represents a drastic change in behavior expected of Tamil women, the militant movement appears to reinforce existing patterns of gender constructions, ultimately impeding the attainment of meaningful empowerment for females.

Note on the Author

Kim Jordan, MCA Ministry of Health and Social Services Nunavik, Canada

Myriam Denov, Associate Professor School of Social Work McGill University

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