How Can You Call Her a Woman? Male Soldiers’ Views on Women in the DRC Armed Forces

Dostin Lakika, Ingrid Palmary

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)


There has been a longstanding body of literature on women in the armed forces at least since the 1970s (Segal, 1999). This literature varies considerably in its approach, from feminist work that reflects on the forms of masculinity produced through military and militarization, to work that considers women’s role in the army and attitudes towards women in the army. Furthermore, policy efforts to increase women’s participation in the army (such as UN Security Council Resolution 1325) have explicitly called for the inclusion of women in peace and security efforts. In this paper, we contribute to this literature by assessing how male former combatants from the Democratic Republic of Congo, living in Johannesburg, talk about the women they fought alongside. In doing so, we reconsider the impact that war and associated forms of militarization have on notions of masculinity and femininity both in times of war and its aftermath. We further explore how men’s notions of gender were challenged by the presence of women in the army and how they negotiated this in light of the highly masculine contexts they operated in. We argue that the inclusion of women in the armed forces is heavily shaped by the context and meaning given to conflict and cannot automatically be assumed to have a positive impact on the functioning and practices of the army. We draw out the implications for how the gendered nature of the army is restructured in post-war contexts and how this impacts on demilitarization.

Original languageEnglish
JournalPeace and Conflict Studies
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2022


  • DRC
  • armed forces
  • gender
  • military
  • soldiers
  • violence
  • women

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Safety, Risk, Reliability and Quality
  • Safety Research


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