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Cogs in the Wheel? Women in the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam

‘Cogs in the Wheel? Women in the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam’, Civil Wars, v. 6, no. 4, Winter 2003, pp. 37-54.

This material has been published in Civil Wars, Vol 6, No 4, year 2003, pp 37-54. The only definitive repository of the content that has been certified and accepted after peer review. Copyright and all rights therein are retained by Taylor & Francis. This material may not be copied or reposted without explicit permission. (Copyright (C) Taylor & Francis Ltd.) The web-site of the journal is located at


This article examines women's involvement as combatants in the Sri Lankan Tamil guerrilla organisation the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE). It addresses women's motivations for choosing to join the organisation, then examines the debate over the LTTE's brand of nationalist feminism before looking at how women's experiences in the movement have affected their views on gender in society. The article hopes to shed some light on the feminist debate about these women, and through this on the broader global feminist debate about women's roles in nationalism and war. The article argues for an analysis of women's involvement in the movement that accords the women agency and is open to certain positive results stemming from their participation, yet recognises the problematic nature of nationalist feminism.