Thinking with my neo-positivist hat on, my larger research puzzle is: What explains female involvement in peace-building processes? Or What explains the involvement of women or lack thereof in peace-building processes? One particular case study that I’ve been fascinated in has been the leadership of conflict resolution by Balkan women after the wars in the region during the 90s. Although it is important to note that my fascination and emotional commitment to the region is not enough to make it a definitive case study in my research project if I choose to take a neo-positivist approach to my project, I chose this article because the topic interests me in these preliminary stages, the statistical data in it is interesting and important, and regardless of whether or not I pursue a large n case study, I feel as though I can incorporate this literature into my project because of the topic and focus.This article would be useful with my smaller, interpretivist puzzle, which is what explains Balkan female leadership in conflict resolution post wars.

The article “The Short-run Effects of the Croatian War on Education, Employment, and Earnings” by Milica Kecmanovic explores the effect the Croatian War (1991-1995) had on the 1971 generation of men in terms of educational, employment, and earning trajectories, in comparison with their female counterparts. [1] The author used the data from the Croatian and Slovenian Labour Force Surveys in order to use war as a “natural experiment,” to contrast its own findings with neighboring states that did not experience war. [2] The author finds that the experience of war itself had a negative impact on educational outcomes (among other things) for women, with men who were 20 years old at the start of the war completing more schooling than women in that same age group. [3] Understanding the impacts the variable of war has on vital aspects of society such as education and labor market outcomes has profound significance on “in order to be able to create effective postconflict policy that will provide the best protection against the negative consequences of war.” [4]

The dataset in this research article that deals with education, Table 2: Difference in Differences for Education (1971 vs 1967), measures the rate of change of education between men and women in Croatia and Slovenia before and after the time frame of 1971 and 1967. [5] The independent variable is the experience of war present in the country during the time period (Croatia is the affirmative, while Slovenia the negative), and the dependent variable is the education rate for each gender during the time periods in each of the two countries, which consequently translates to the dependent variable that is difference in differences of education. It appears as though war had a negative impact on educational attainments in Croatia, while in Slovenia the rates did not change because there was no war to vary the attainment levels. [6]

If i were to use this dataset in a large-n version of my research project, I might consider analyzing the effect of the war in the realm of education in another former Yugoslav state such as Serbia, where the war has not had such a successful or victorious outcome and where there was a strong negative public sentiment toward it, because I would take into account more control variables such as those previously mentioned that could affect the outcome of my findings. The independent variable would be the presence of war, with the independent variables being education.

I could also use the data set up in a different way, by making the independent variable the presence of war, and the dependent variable the number of women in positions of political leadership, comparing the difference of differences from before and after the start of the Balkan wars. The presence of war could be operationalized as a nominal variable (1 being yes, 2 being no), and the presence of women in positions of political leadership could be operationalized as an ordinal variable or an interval variable (ordinally have 1-5 represent increasing amounts of leadership types, and intervallly have the exact position numbers).

With this set up, I could likely do a small n-case study in order to truly capture regions of the world and political situations that genuinely capture the puzzling phenomenon of women leading peace-building and conflict resolution, despite the odds pointing against them in every other direction (for example, the women in Bosnia after the ethnic wars, or the Palestinian Liberation fighting women, etc.).

This dataset generated by Kecmanovic is limited in a few ways. First of all, the case study in Croatia could be limited as I said before because it doesn’t take into account the outcomes for a losing state in the war, or a state whose public opinion didn’t rally around the war, which could affect the trajectory of the research. Also, this study is predominantly focused on men within a particular age cohort, with women as a secondary thought. Pushing women as the focal point of my statistical analysis would be better fitting into the scope of research I’m doing, as opposing to placing female participation in the spheres Kecmanovic studies (education, employment, and earnings) as a secondary thought.

[1] Milica Kecmanovic. “The Short-run Effects of the Croatian War on Education Employment, and Earnings,” Journal of Conflict Resolution 57, 6 (2013), 991.

[2] Ibid.

[3] Ibid, 1006.

[4] Ibid, 1007.

[5] Ibid, 1003.

[6] Ibid.