“We are trained to be married!” Elite Formation and Ideology in the “girls’ battalion” of the Sudan People's Liberation Army

Citation:

Pinaud, Clémence. 2015. “‘We Are Trained to Be Married!’ Elite Formation and Ideology in the ‘girls’ Battalion’ of the Sudan People’s Liberation Army.” Journal of Eastern African Studies 9 (3): 375–93. doi:10.1080/17531055.2015.1091638.

Author: Clémence Pinaud

Abstract:

Women have supported, willingly or not, the Sudan People’s Liberation Army’s (SPLA) struggle of 22 years that led to the country’s independence in 2011 as part of the 2005 Comprehensive Peace Agreement. This article explains the movement’s relationship to women by contrasting it with other examples of guerilla armies in sub-Saharan Africa at the time. It highlights the lack of ideological depth of the movement from its inception, and dissects the many roots behind the rank-and-file and the population’s hostility toward women’s fighting. It analyzes the reasons behind the creation of the only “Girls’ battalion”, Ketiba Banat, which became an incubator for the creation of a new female elite and fulfilled political and social functions during the 22 years struggle. It also depicts other groups of women who joined the SPLA and were militarily trained outside of Ketiba Banat. Women’s engagement was socially stratified during the war and membership to Ketiba Banat became an engine for increased social differentiation during the war and even more so afterwards. The women who were trained in other battalions but found themselves excluded from post-war neo-patrimonial networks, share the same frustrations as those in other African post-conflict contexts.

Keywords: South Sudan, Sudan People's Liberation Army, women, fighters, soldiers, war, marriage

Topics: Armed Conflict, Combatants, Female Combatants, Gender, Women Regions: Africa, East Africa

Year: 2015

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