Gender-based insecurity and opportunities for peace: supporting the reintegration of young war-affected mothers.

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Worthen, Miranda
McKay, Susan
Veale, Angela
Wessells, Mike
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United Nations Institute for Disarmament Research (UNIDIR)
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In conflicts throughout the world, armed forces and groups recruit children to fight, maintain their camps, perform labor and be used for sexual purposes. The experiences of children associated with armed forces and groups (CAAFAG) are not uniform, nor can there be a uniform approach to helping them when the conflict is over. This article examines the gendered experiences of girls prior to recruitment, during their time with the fighting forces, through disarmament, demobilization and reintegration (DDR) processes, and in their communities after formal DDR has ended. We also present some of the experiences of the Participatory Action Research (PAR) Study with Young Mothers in Liberia, Sierra Leone and Northern Uganda—a study conducted predominantly with former CAAFAG which used a highly participatory methodology to help participants attain community-based reintegration. In the PAR study young mother participants took a central role in the design and implementation of their reintegration process. A mixture of self-help style psychosocial support and livelihood support were critical to their success. As this population had exceptionally low social status, lacked confidence and self-respect, and did not have rudimentary economic skills at the start, social support and community mobilization were critical in laying the groundwork for livelihood activities and facilitating the sustainability of these activities.
Child solider , Participatory research , Gender , Girls , Mothers , Liberia , Sierra Leone , Uganda
Worthen, M, McKay, S., Veale, A. and Wessells, M. (2011) 'Gender-based insecurity and opportunities for peace: Supporting the reintegration of young war-affected mothers', Disarmament Forum, 3, pp. 35-45.
© 2011 United Nations