A Window Of Opportunity: Improving Gender Relations in Post-Conflict Societies: The Sierra Leonean Experience

Citation:

Smet, Stijn. 2009. “A Window Of Opportunity: Improving Gender Relations in Post-Conflict Societies: The Sierra Leonean Experience.” Journal of Gender Studies 18 (2): 147–63.

Author: Stijn Smet

Abstract:

Those playing a role in the immediate aftermath of armed conflicts widely state the pursuit of gender equality as a specific objective. This article both assesses the theoretical feasibility of this objective and questions the practical efforts undertaken by development actors in this respect in the concrete case of Sierra Leone. The case study focuses on discrimination against women and girls in Sierra Leonean society and on gender bias and discrimination against girls associated with armed forces or armed groups (GAAFs) in the official Disarmament, Demobilisation and Reintegration (DDR) Programme and ‘unofficial’ reintegration efforts. The research shows that – due to a variety of factors – the international community does have a window of opportunity to impact positively on gender relations in post-conflict societies. However, as the study demonstrates, this opportunity has thus far not been taken up in the case of Sierra Leone. The article therefore proposes a new robust model to ameliorate efforts to support the creation of gender equality in post-conflict societies, based on the conclusions drawn from the case study.

Topics: Armed Conflict, Combatants, Female Combatants, DDR, Development, Gender, Women, Gendered Power Relations, Gender Equality/Inequality, Military Forces & Armed Groups, Post-Conflict, Post-Conflict Reconstruction, Rights, Women's Rights Regions: Africa, West Africa Countries: Sierra Leone

Year: 2009

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