Women and the War on Boko Haram: Wives, Weapons, Witnesses, by Hilary Matfess. London: Zed Books Ltd., 2017
Women and the War on Boko Haram is a bold and coherent effort to decolonise victim narratives about women’s roles in, and experiences of, the conflict in
Nigeria’s northeast. Before this book, although there had been a growing focus on women as perpetrators and enablers of violence by scholars like Freedom
Onuoha, Elizabeth Pearson and Jacob Zenn, women were primarily seen (as victims) through the lens of the students abducted by the group known as Boko
Haram from their Chibok school in April 2014. But Matfess’ book is not just about women; it offers critical and insightful commentary on the broader underlying
conflict and suggests informed management strategies. Women and the War onBoko Haram also shows how the essentialisation of women’s conflict experiences, their exclusion from response strategies, and disjointed state and humanitarian responses are prolonging the conflict unduly.