Publication Date



Open access

Embargo Period


Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)


Latin American Studies (Arts and Sciences)

Date of Defense


First Committee Member

John Bryan Page

Second Committee Member

Traci Ardren

Third Committee Member

Marten Brienen


Civil war raged in El Salvador from the 1970s through the 1980s as guerrilla armies, united under the Frente Farabundo Martí para la Liberación Nacional (FMLN), aimed to overturn what they considered to be an oligarchic repressive regime. Of these FMLN forces, approximately thirty percent were women. Using personal stories derived from a series of in-person interviews with former combatants, this thesis explores the why and how women joined and were included in the guerrilla forces as well as their roles and responsibilities as armed combatants. In addition, given the decade long duration of the conflict, I explore the evolution of recruitment practices and combatant positions of the guerrilla forces regarding female fighters. I directly address the previous omission of detailed accounts of the experiences of Salvadoran female combatants during the conflict through use of an ethnographic methodology. This case study provides a new perspective on and insight to discussions of gender roles in post conflict societies where women have played a significant role as combatants and the effects of women’s integration into regularized armed forces.


El Salvador; guerrillerras; civil war; combatant; women