Triin Laiverik (Tallinn University, Estonia) “Women’s Involvement in the Martyrdom Operations of the Middle-Eastern Islamist Groups in the 20th and 21th Century”


The MA thesis analyses women’s involvement in the Middle-Eastern Islamist groups in the 20th-21st century with the aim to analyse and compare the status of female members of these groups with the status of male co-fighters. The thesis raises a variety of issues, including: The reasons why women were involved in the military activities; what are their tasks in these groups; whether the inclusion of women has come from their own desire; whether female suicide bombers are carrying out their tasks voluntarily or is it a consequence of manipulation/threats.

Women’s participation in military operations is a relatively new phenomenon. Traditionally, in Middle East, women’s role in military actions has been seen as raising sons who can fight. With the raise of non-governmental groups who are implementing non-conventional strategies to succeed in their objectives, women’s participation in military operations has become a topical matter. Many of such groups have begun to recruit women and involve them in various tasks, including martyrdom operations. There are several aims for recruiting female combatants, including facilitating easier passage through checkpoints (Palestine) or getting a psychological advantage when the enemy is afraid of dying through a woman’s hand and losing martyr status (the Kurds).