While research has shown that civil wars often significantly increase women’s representation in politics, we know little about the long-term effect on women holding political leadership positions in post-civil war countries. We develop a new theoretical approach to explain how quotas affect women’s long-term representation in post-civil war governments. We observe a higher share of women in cabinets after the end of civil wars. We argue that the interaction of civil wars and gender quotas that provide a legal framework for a certain share of women in political office makes it especially likely that women can retain long-term political power. In contrast, the effect on women’s leadership over time is smaller in post-civil war countries without a quota. Utilizing a novel data set of female executive-branch leaders in sub-Saharan African countries from 2001 to 2018, we empirically test whether women in post-civil war countries have managed to gain a long-term hold on the progress they made in representation. Our findings show that for cabinet positions, the interplay of gender quota and civil war explains female political leaders' longevity in post-civil war countries.This research has implications for understanding post-civil war situations and the conditions under which women retain political power.