IRRC No. 877

Between Amazons and Sabines: a historical approach to women and war

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Today, war is still perceived as being the prerogative of men only. Women are generally excluded from the debate on belligerence, except as passive victims of the brutality inflicted on them by their masculine contemporaries. Yet history shows that through the ages, women have also played a role in armed hostilities, and have sometimes even been the main protagonists. In the present article, the long history and the multiple facets of women's involvement in war are recounted from two angles: women at war (participating in war) and women in war (affected by war). The merit of a genderbased division of roles in war is then examined with reference to the ancestral practice of armed violence.

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