Inequality and insurgency in India: a disaggregated analysis of the link between gender inequality and armed conflict

Project Leader

Erika Forsberg, Ph.D.

Project Period



Louise Olsson, Ph.D. (Folke Bernadotte Academy)

Project Description

As recent media debates have displayed, India is a country wrestling with gender inequality. India has also seen multiple armed conflicts affecting many of its states and union territories. So, does gender inequality increase the risk of armed conflict? And would more gender equality instead provide greater opportunities for a non-violent approach? The purpose of this project is to address these questions through statistical analysis of new micro-level data on India’s 640 districts and qualitative fieldwork in select districts. Prior research has found robust support for a relationship between gender inequality and violent conflict on the country-level. Such research has also indicated that better gender equality instead can serve to improve a society’s capacity to resist violence. However, many propositions for why inequality would be related to the risk of violent conflict rely on notions about norms, grievances and capacity which operate at a local level and which, hence, may not be fully captured by country-level data. In fact, both violent conflict and inequality vary significantly within countries, not least in a country as large and diverse as India. By combining a statistical analysis with fieldwork in two regions that differ substantially in terms of equality and women’s status, this project contributes by improving our understanding of the mechanisms behind inequality and violent conflict. Thereby, the project makes a unique contribution to the ongoing international debate on why gender matters for international peace and security.


Forsberg, Erika and Louise Olsson (forthcoming). “Gender Inequality and Internal Armed Conflict” Oxford Research Encyclopedia of Politics. Oxford University Press.

Forsberg, Erika & Louise Olsson (2014). “Gender Inequality and Armed Conflict: A Disaggregated Analysis of Northeast India, 1989-2011”. Paper presented at (1) the 54th Annual Convention of the International Studies Association, San Francisco, 3–6 April; (2) the joint meeting of CRS and ENCoRe, University of Essex, 17-20 September; and (3) the National Centre for Peace and Conflict Studies, University of Otago, 11 February 2014.

Main Financial Support

Funded by the Swedish Research Council

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