Eine Wandmalerei, die eine Kapmfszene zeigt.

Photo taken by Carlo Koos during fieldwork near Bukavu, DR Congo in 2017.

12.10.2023: Con­flicts, Sexual Vio­lence and Women Empow­er­ment? Insights from Demo­cra­tic Repu­blic of Con­go, Libe­ria, and Sri Lanka

Guest talk by Carlo Koos (University of Bergen) on the micro-level effects of armed conflicts and sexual violence on women’s empowerment. On Thursday, October 12, 2023; 15:00; Meeting Zone (Besprechungszone), Department of Political Science, University of Innsbruck.

Meeting Zone (Besprechungszone), Department of Political Science, University of Innsbruck, Sowi building, 2nd floor west, Universitätsstraße 15, 6020 Innsbruck (A) (how to reach us)

Thursday, October 12, 2023


The lecture will be held in English. Questions and comments can also be made in German.


Armed conflicts and wars inflict human suffering, destroy institutions, and infrastructure. Despite all this, several recent studies have found that women’s political representation and agency thrives after armed conflicts. This paradox is attributed to the ability of wars to disrupt entrenched social hierarchies and thus provide opportunities for marginalized groups including women. In this talk, Prof. Koos provides a critical perspective of overly optimistic macro-level approaches, and argues that in order to understand the implications of wars and conflicts, the experiences, behaviors, and attitudes of individuals, families and communities need to be at the center of research. To that end, Prof. Koos will talk about his new ERC-funded project (www.wareffects.eu) that focuses on the micro-level dynamics of war and gender relations. Moreover, he will present a forthcoming article on the sociopolitical legacies of conflict-related sexual violence. The paper draws on original surveys from more than 10,000 respondents in DR Congo, Liberia, and Sri Lanka, showcases novel measurement strategies to provide respondents anonymity, and concludes that survivors of sexual violence engage in collective action and mobilize in their communities, however, with the drawback that this mobilization is largely driven by men. The article provides a new theoretical perspective by shifting the debate from a focus on victimhood towards survivor agency while acknowledging that gender norms appear to remain an obstacle to women’s empowerment.

Assoc. Prof. Carlo Koos

Profilbild Carlo Koos

I am an Associate Professor in the Department of Government at the University of Bergen. I am also affiliated with the Development Learning Lab, the WomanStats Project, and the German Institute of Global and Area Studies. Previously I was as humanitarian aid worker with Médecins Sans Frontières in South Sudan, Libya, Egypt, Swaziland and Uganda. 

In my research I am interested in what shapes the social and political values, attitudes, and behavior of individuals and groups in fragile and conflict-affected countries and regions, mostly in Africa. Among others, I am currently leading an ERC-funded research project on the micro-level effects of civil wars on women's empowerment. My work has been published or is forthcoming in journals including the American Political Science Review, World Politics, the Journal of Conflict Resolution, World Development, the Journal of Peace Research and others.

I am also involved in applied impact evaluations for development and humanitarian organizations in the areas of women's empowerment, political accountability, water and sanitation and climate adaptation including UNICEF, UNHCR, the Welthungerhilfe, the KfW Development Bank, the World Bank, Oxfam and others.

Moderation: Ass.-Prof. Dr Sarah Berens and Ass.-Prof. Dr. Dominik Duell, Department of Political Science, University of Innsbruck.

Discuss with us!
We look forward to welcoming you to the Department of Political Science!
The event will take place on site (no livestream).
No registration necessary.

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