Women in Armed Rebellion Dataset (WARD)



We are pleased to announce the second update of the Women in Armed Rebellion Dataset (WARD v1.3).* This update expands the timespan of the dataset and provides information for several groups previously coded as missing. WARD now includes information on more than 300 rebel movements active between 1964 and 2014. Please see the version history for a summary of the changes and additions to the dataset.

WARD includes multiple indicators that capture the presence and prevalence of female fighters in an armed group. The categorical indicators included in the dataset roughly account for the estimated proportion of an armed group’s combat force that was composed of women. The table below briefly describes the categories of the prevalence indicators. Additional information about the dataset is provided in the detailed codebook.


The map below illustrates the geographic distribution of female fighters in the current sample. The values in the map represent the maximum value of the “Best” estimate of female fighter prevalence from WARD across all armed groups active in a given country during the window of observation. The information presented here suggests that women are active participants in armed conflicts across all regions of the globe; though, there is observable regional variation and  substantial geographic clustering of female fighters.


The following figures provide basic information on the distribution of armed groups within the sample across the 4 levels of the categorical prevalence indicators. The left-hand figure shows the distribution for the “Best” estimate of the prevalence of female combatants while the right-hand figure shows the distribution for the less stringent “High” estimate. The data suggest that about 40% of armed groups (though perhaps as many as half) include women in combat roles in some capacity. However, women constitute a substantial proportion of fighters in only a very small number of groups.


*Please note, on 12.3.2019 we were notified of an error in the coding for the group Lebanese Forces (sidebid 243). The current version of the dataset available here corrects this error.

Reference Information

The WARD was first published in the Journal of Peace Research.  Please include the following citation when using these data:

Wood, Reed M. and Jakana L. Thomas. 2017. “Women on the Frontline: Rebel Group Ideology and Women’s Participation in Violent Rebellion“, Journal of Peace Research 54(1): 31-46.

Replication data for this article can be downloaded here.

Help us improve our data collection

Locating accurate information on women’s participation in armed movements is extremely challenging, and we recognize the possibility that we have overlooked women’s contributions in some cases and exaggerated their contributions in others. Our categorical estimates reflect only the information we have successfully uncovered in a multi-year, multi-researcher data collection effort. If you believe you have found an error in our coding or have additional information you believe we might have overlooked, please feel free to email the project manager.

Featured Image

The image featured at the top of the page was produced by the African National Congress (ANC). Image courtesy of the African Activist Archive.