In recent years, the role of gender in societies undergoing significant political change has received increasing attention both theoretically, in the literature on democratization, and practically in the international financial support provided women’s groups for the promotion of democracy. As a result, scholars and policy-makers are well positioned to consider systematically (i) the relationship between gender and democratic transformation in general, and (ii) the conditions under which women’s groups and other activists can effectively promote gender equality in the emerging governmental structures. This themed issue investigates a set of questions and cases in need of thorough and methodical analysis: the relationship between gender and democratic political transformation in societies beset by high levels of violence, in which the means of political change necessarily involves a process of establishing civil peace, political reform, economic reconstruction, and social reconciliation. It asks how war-to-democracy transitions, to use Jarstadt and Sisk’s term, lead to fundamental change, with particular reference to gender justice and empowerment of women (2008).

Author Biography

Jill A. Irvine is President’s Associates Presidential Professor and Director of Women’s and Gender Studies and the Center for Social Justice at the University of Oklahoma. She is author of The Croat Question, Partisan Politics in the Formation of the Yugoslav Socialist State and co-editor of State-Society Relations in Yugoslavia 1945-1991 and Natalija: Life in the Balkan Powderkeg 1880-1956. She has written numerous articles, book chapters and government reports about gender and democratic transformations in the Balkans. She is currently working on a book on women, war, and political transformation in the Balkans funded by the International Research and Exchanges Board and the National Council for Eurasian and East European Research.

Maureen Hays-Mitchell is professor of geography at Colgate University. Her teaching and scholarly interests include international development, political geography, feminist thought, and spatial justice. She has conducted grassroots fieldwork in Andean America on the urban informal economy and on micro-enterprise development. Her current scholarship involves human rights, post-conflict landscapes, truth commissions, and gendered dimensions of reconciliation and reconstruction in several Latin American countries. She is co-editor of Cities of the World: Contemporary Regional Urban Development (2012, Rowman & Littlefield) and numerous book chapters and articles in journals such as Society and Space, International Journal of Regional Research, and the Journal of Latin Americanist Geography.