Female combatants play a central role in rebel efforts to cultivate and disseminate positive narratives regarding the movement and its political goals. Yet, the effectiveness of such strategies in shaping audience attitudes or generating tangible benefits for the group remains unclear. We propose and test a theory regarding the channels through which female fighters advance rebel goals. We argue that female fighters positively influence audience attitudes toward rebel groups by strengthening observers’ beliefs about their legitimacy and their decision to use armed tactics. We further contend that these effects directly help them secure support from transnational nonstate actors and indirectly promote state support. We assess our arguments by combining a novel survey experiment in two countries with analyses of new cross-national data on female combatants and information about transnational support for rebels. The empirical results support our arguments and demonstrate the impact of gender framing on rebel efforts to secure support.
- civil wars
- external support
- internal armed conflict
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Business, Management and Accounting(all)
- Sociology and Political Science
- Political Science and International Relations