Eine Wandmalerei, die eine Kapmfszene zeigt.

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

Powi Lec­ture #10: Con­flicts, Sexual Vio­lence and Women Empow­er­ment? Insights from Demo­cra­tic Repu­blic of Con­go, Libe­ria, and Sri Lanka

13.11.2023: Guest talk by Carlo Koos (University of Bergen) on the micro-level effects of armed conflicts and sexual violence on women’s empowerment.

Podcast PolitikWissen


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.


Profilbild Carlo Koos

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

Recorded on October 12th, 2023, University of Innsbruck.





To cite:
Koos, Carlo (2023): Con­flicts, Sexual Vio­lence and Women Empow­er­ment? Insights from Demo­cra­tic Repu­blic of Con­go, Libe­ria, and Sri Lanka, Podcast PolitikWissen, Institut für Politikwissenschaft, Universität Innsbruck, https://www.uibk.ac.at/de/politikwissenschaft/kommunikation/podcast/koos-conflicts.


Music by Lost Harmonies.

This podcast gives the views of the author(s), and not the position of the Department of Political Science.

This work by the Department of Political Science at the University of Innsbruck is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International (CC BY-NC-ND 4.0).

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