Women, Peace, and Security



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Before near-erasure in 2009, the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam were among modernity’s most potent insurgents. Essential to LTTE influence over swaths of the Tamil population in Sri Lanka was the recruiting of women and girls into the political, administrative, economic and martial sides of the conflict that had begun in the mid-1970s.

Among the leaders of Tamil efforts was Adele Ann Balasingham, an Australian, allied with and married to the Tigers’ top diplomat. She was involved in female recruitment, politicization, and training in a system that eventually drew thousands of women and girls into the insurgency. Many were combatants in mixed or all-female infantry units.

To attract and develop female cadres, Ms. Balasingham authored a sophisticated training manual covering political, social, cultural, and physical/martial elements of the conflict against the Sinhalese ethnic majority and the state government. Despite its significance, proven success, and availability on the world wide web, the forty-page text Women Fighters of Liberation Tigers has been largely ignored by Westerners--including commentators focusing on women in terrorism in Sri Lanka. This chapter/paper will begin to remedy the oversight.

Publication Date

May, 2023


U.S. Naval War College


Newport, Rhode Island


Sri Lanka, Tamil Tigresses, LTTE, female terrorist, women insurgents

Adele Ann Balasingham’s LTTE Tigresses