Gendered Security Harms: State Policy and the Counterinsurgency Against Boko Haram

Elizabeth Pearson, Chitra Nagarajan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Scholars have critiqued the incorporation of gender into counter-terrorism and countering violent extremism: programmes have instrumentalised the Women Peace and Security (WPS) agenda towards state-centric goals and essentialised the women (and men) they encounter. Furthermore, as Huckerby outlines, the explicit inclusion of gender in security policy can produce specific gendered security harms: coercive and non-coercive practices; securitization of women’s rights; and lack of attention to the gendered effects of seemingly gender-neutral policy. This article engages Huckerby’s typology to explore the gendered security harms produced in Nigeria’s counter-insurgency against ‘Boko Haram’. It suggests first that a simplistic approach to women, not gendered power relations, leaves Nigeria unable to respond to the complex gendered dynamics of jihadist actors in the northeast. Second, a neglect of human rights and the role of state actors in abuses actively enable gendered security harms. The article concludes that Nigeria is therefore still failing to protect women.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)108-140
Number of pages33
JournalAfrican Conflict and Peacebuilding Review
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 12 Jan 2021

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