ECSAS 2023 – Turin 26-29 July

Gendered Processes of Mobilization During the People’s War in Nepal


Prasai Apekshya - Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Political Science, Cambridge, United States


03 – Changing Forms of Gendered Participation in Politico-ideological Movements in South Asia: Histories, Networks, (In)Visibilities


 What explains women’s mobilization into insurgency? Building on existing scholarship on mobilization and women’s participation in armed groups, this article develops a dynamic theory of women’s mobilization during violent rebellion. It theorizes how ordinary women’s interaction with rebel organizational structure, particularly its women’s wings, and related processes of political education and socialization build everyday solidarities and shared gendered understandings among women. As conflict unfolds, changing nature of violence, particularly heightening state repression, combine with these processes to mobilize large numbers of women into rebellion, including as fighters. Examining within-case, over-time variation in patterns of women’s mobilization during different stages of the People’s War in Nepal (1996-2006), this article advances a dynamic and temporal theory of women’s mobilization. To do so, the article draws on multi-year, multi-sited fieldwork with former Communist Party of Nepal-Maoist (CPN-M) rebels across Nepal. Analysis of 184 in-depth interviews with former rebels, participant observation in former rebel spaces, rebel documents, rebels’ diaries and memoirs and secondary sources form the basis of this analysis. This article advances our understanding of mobilization as a  gendered process using original data from an understudied South Asian conflict.