Girls with Guns: The Disarmament and Demobilization of Female Ex-Combatants in Africa
30 Pages Posted: 26 Mar 2014 Last revised: 20 Nov 2014
Date Written: 2014
In Africa today, women and girls can make up as much as thirty percent of active fighting forces. The passing of U.N. Security Council Resolution 1325 in October 2000 was meant to incorporate these women into peacebuilding processes and aid them in transitioning back into civilian lives. However, many African states are still struggling to craft policies that properly integrate female ex-combatants into disarmament, demobilization and reintegration (DDR) programs. Much of the literature on this subject focuses on the latter — how are females reintegrated into civilian society? However, why aren't more women participating in disarmament and demobilization? Are they simply not interested? If they are interested, what are the barriers restricting female access to these processes? Utilizing the Peace Accords Matrix, I analyze a number of recent cases in Africa — including Sierra Leone, Liberia, Burundi, and South Sudan — to examine ways in which DDR policy can be improved to provide females with better, safer access to the cantonment sites where the DDR process initiates. Until women and girls are granted access to disarmament and demobilization, they will not benefit fully from DDR programs. The most important changes that must take place include removing the label of “dependent” from female ex-combatants and ensuring that cantonment sites are designed to promote human security for male and female ex-combatants.
Keywords: DDR, Africa, female ex-combatants, Resolution 1325, Peace Accords Matrix
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