Keynote:  The Impact of War on Women and Children
with Dr. Andy Knight, BA, MA, PhD, FRSC
Feb. 4, 2022, 11:45 am - 12:45 pm

The most vulnerable individuals during wars, particularly since 1989, have been women and children. This presentation draws on two areas of my research: 1) Child soldiers and 2) women combatants. About 300,000 children serve today as soldiers in armed conflicts in several countries around the world; most of these conflicts are civil conflicts. Some of these boys and girls are as young as 8 years old and are recruited by government forces and armed irregular forces. Several of these children are forced to fight on the front lines, participate in suicide missions, and act as spies, messengers, or lookouts. Girls are at times forced into sexual slavery. But so too are some boys. Many child soldiers are abducted or recruited by force into the armed group, but others join voluntarily, sometimes out of desperation or out of the belief that armed groups offer the best chance for survival during the conflict. It is commonly held that the direct participation of women in armed conflict is uncommon. However, we know from the research that a growing number of women are fighting in contemporary conflicts, civil wars, insurgencies, and terrorist campaigns. My research is particularly interested in women drawn into terrorism. What has been the impact of these violent conflicts on both children and women? Has the impact of conflict been always negative? Could wars also result in certain positive impacts on both children and women? This presentation addresses these questions.  


Dr. Andy Knight is Professor of International Relations in the Political Science Department at the University of Alberta and past Chair of the Department. He is the former Director of the Institute of International Relations (IIR), The University of the West Indies (UWI), Trinidad & Tobago, and co-founder and former head of the Diplomatic Academy of the Caribbean (DAOC). He is co-editor in chief of both African Security journal and International Journal, and he established during his secondment in the Caribbean, the Caribbean Journal of International Relations and Diplomacy. Professor Knight was co-editor of another highly regarded and award-winning journal:  Global Governance from 2000 to 2005. A Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada (FRSC), Professor Knight was named among Alberta's top 50 most influential people by Venture Magazine and the 2010 Harry Jerome Trailblazer by the Black Business and Professional Association of Canada.  He served as Advisory Board Member of the World Economic Forum’s Global Agenda Council on the Welfare of Children and was Director of the Peace and Post Conflict Studies Certificate Programme in the Office of Interdisciplinary Studies (OIS) at the University of Alberta. In March 2007, Dr. Knight was appointed by the Canadian Foreign Minister to the Board of Governors of the International Development Research Centre (IDRC) and served in that position until 2011.

Knight has written several books on the United Nations, Global Politics, and the Responsibility to Protect. One of his most recently published books with Tanya Narozhna (University of Toronto Press) is the award-winning Female Suicide Bombings: A Critical Gendered Approach. His ongoing research and publications address issues of global health governance, global health security, children and war, terrorism, extremism, and the vulnerabilities and resiliency of small island developing states (SIDS). He also hosts a popular podcast - which has initiated a serious conversation on race as part of the University of Alberta's efforts to address the need for equity, diversity, and inclusion (EDI). In March 2021, Professor Knight was named a University of Alberta Distinguished Professor in recognition of his outstanding research, teaching and service. He currently holds the 2021-22 Fulbright Distinguished Chair in International Area Studies at Yale University.