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Gender and (Militarized) Secessionist Movements in Africa: An African Feminist’s Reflections


Mougoué, Jacqueline-Bethel Tchouta. 2018. "Gender and (Militarized) Secessionist Movements in Africa: An African Feminist's Reflections." Meridians 17 (2): 338-58.

Author: Jacqueline-Bethel Tchouta Mougoué


Utilizing interdisciplinary and multimethodological approaches, this essay explores women’s roles in buttressing the political cohesion of secessionist movements in postcolonial Africa. It argues that African women have supported the actions of male-dominated secessionist movements in order to garner their own social and political power. Using case studies from Anglophone Cameroon, Western Sahara, Cabinda Province (Angola), and Biafra (Nigeria), the essay historicizes and outlines a new analytical framework that explores women’s multifaceted participation in secessionist movements in modern-day Africa.

Keywords: gender, secessionism, Cameroon, Cabinda, Western Sahara, Biafra

Topics: Armed Conflict, Secessionist Wars, Coloniality/Post-Coloniality, Gender, Gendered Power Relations, Political Participation Regions: Africa, Central Africa, North Africa, West Africa Countries: Angola, Cameroon, Nigeria, Western Sahara

Year: 2018

Luanda's Post-War Land Markets: Reducing Poverty by Promoting Inclusion


Cain, Allan. 2013. Luanda's Post-War Land Markets: Reducing Poverty by Promoting Inclusion. Urban Forum 24 (1) (03): 11-31.

Author: Cain Allan


Almost 40 years of war in Angola forced millions of people fleeing rural areas to seek a safe haven in the capital and to settle in informal slum settlements ( musseques) on the periphery of Luanda. The new urban migrants created homes and settlements on landthat they purchased in good faith but for which they could get no legal title. Now, they face eviction threats due to commercial interests and government infrastructure expansion. With a population today approaching of over six million, Luanda is Africa's fastest growing and fifth largest city. A decade of post-war rapid economic growth, fuelled by rising commodity prices, has seen GDP per capita grow eightfold, but poverty reduction has not kept apace. The poor, representing over 50 % of the population, have benefited little from the 'peace dividend'. The Angolan Government has promised to build one million homes country-wide before the 2012 elections and aims to eliminate much of the musseque in the process. However, the government's urban plans remain hindered by a weak administration and little national implementation capacity. Despite the government's assertion as the unique owner and manager of all land, there exists a thriving real-estate market for both formal (titled) and informally occupied land. Most urban residents with weak or non-existent tenure rights benefit little from increasing land values and are susceptible to being forcibly removed and increasingly obliged to occupy environmentally risky flood-prone areas. This paper presents the results of work on property markets in Luanda that permit a better understanding of the nature and economic value of land and identify the problems and potentials the market has to offer. The paper argues for a major reform in public land policy, recognising the legitimacy of common practices inland acquisition and long-term occupation in good faith. Inclusive land management, adapting to both formal and existing informal markets, can contribute to the improvement of urban settlement conditions and economic wellbeing of the poor in post-war Luanda.

Keywords: Angola, land markets, post-conflict, slum, urban, tenure

Topics: Armed Conflict, Development, Economies, Governance, Post-conflict Governance, Infrastructure, Peace Processes, Post-Conflict, Religion, Rights, Property Rights Regions: Africa, Southern Africa Countries: Angola

Year: 2013

From Soldiers to Citizens, or Soldiers to Seamstresses: Reintegrating Girl and Women Soldiers in Sierra Leone


MacKenzie, Megan H. 2007. “From Soldiers to Citizens, or Soldiers to Seamstresses: Reintegrating Girl and Women Soldiers in Sierra Leone.” In . Chicago, IL.


Author: Megan H MacKenzie


Maintaining security in a post-conflict country is often seen to be dependant on peace-building and reconstruction. One can hardly escape terms such as building sustainable peace and post-conflict construction. The disarmament, demobilization, reintegration, and rehabilitation, or DDR-R process for former combatants is being touted as an ideal model for ensuring that post-conflict societies return to peace. These four simple steps to lasting security have been used as a model in war torn countries like Liberia, Sierra Leone, the Democratic Republic of Congo, and Angola. The logic is that these steps aid in restoring countries to more secure, stable times. More specifically, this model streamlines former combatants from soldiers to citizens. Given that the task of this process is to encourage combatants to shed their roles as fighters and to return to their former pre-war roles, it seems intuitive that the way that women and girls go through this process is of particular interest. In fact, despite the ascendancy of this DDR-R model, there has been little critical analysis of the implications of this process for women in war-torn countries. Using Sierra Leone as a case study, I explore how women and girls have been included and treated at each phase of this process. I look specifically at the tendency of organizations and agencies operating DDR-R programs to promote a return of women and girls to their pre-war roles and the tension that women and girls feel between the power they gained as combatants and the social pressure to reintegrate. I also examine the implications, for women and girls, of international and national organizations commitment to equating security with the return to pre-war society rather than rethinking relations of power. I include testimonies from 50 former girl soldiers who talk about their roles during the conflict and their hopes for themselves today.

Keywords: women, conflict, development, security, post-conflict, reintegration

Topics: Armed Conflict, Civil Wars, "New Wars", Combatants, Child Soldiers, Female Combatants, DDR, Gender, Women, Girls, Military Forces & Armed Groups, Militarization, Post-Conflict, Security, Human Security Regions: Africa Countries: Angola, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Liberia, Sierra Leone

Year: 2007

Women, Non-Governmental Organizations, and Deforestation: a Cross-National Study


Shandra, John M., Carrie L. Shandra, and Bruce London. 2008. “Women, Non-Governmental Organizations, and Deforestation: A Cross-National Study.” Population and Environment 30 (1-2): 48–72.

Authors: John M. Shandra, Carrie L. Shandra, Bruce London


There have been several cross-national studies published in the world polity theoretical tradition that find a strong correlation between nations with high levels of environmental nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) and low levels of various forms of environmental degradation. However, these studies neglect the role that women’s NGOs potentially play in this process. We seek to address this gap by conducting a cross-national study of the association between women’s NGOs and deforestation. We examine this relationship because deforestation often translates into increased household labor, loss of income, and impaired health for women and, as a result, women’s non-governmental organizations have become increasingly involved in dealing with these problems often by protecting forests. We use data from a sample of 61 nations for the period of 1990–2005. We find substantial support for world polity theory that both high levels of women’s and environmental NGOs per capita are associated with lower rates of deforestation. We also find that high levels of debt service and structural adjustment are correlated with higher rates of forest loss. We conclude with a discussion of findings, policy implications, and possible future research directions.

Keywords: deforestation, women, non-governmental organizations, cross-national

Topics: Economies, Environment, Extractive Industries, Gender, Women, NGOs Regions: Africa, MENA, Central Africa, East Africa, North Africa, Southern Africa, West Africa, Americas, Caribbean countries, Central America, North America, South America, Asia, East Asia, South Asia, Southeast Asia, Europe, Baltic states, Balkans, Central Europe, Eastern Europe, Oceania Countries: Albania, Algeria, Angola, Argentina, Bangladesh, Bolivia, Brazil, Bulgaria, Burkina Faso, Central African Republic, Chad, Chile, China, Colombia, Costa Rica, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Ecuador, El Salvador, Ethiopia, Gambia, Ghana, Guatemala, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Honduras, Hungary, India, Jamaica, Kenya, Lesotho, Madagascar, Malawi, Malaysia, Mexico, Mongolia, Mozambique, Nepal, Nicaragua, Nigeria, Pakistan, Panama, Papua New Guinea, Paraguay, Peru, Philippines, Poland, Romania, Rwanda, Senegal, Sierra Leone, South Africa, Sri Lanka, Swaziland, Tanzania, Thailand, Togo, Trinidad & Tobago, Uganda, Uruguay, Zambia, Zimbabwe

Year: 2008

Cycles of Violence: Gender Relations and Armed Conflict


El-Bushra, Judy, and Ibrahim M.G. Sahl. 2005. Cycles of Violence: Gender Relations and Armed Conflict. Nairobi: ACORD - Agency for Co-Operation and Research in Development.

Authors: Judy El-Bushra, Ibrahim M.G. Sahl


This book describes ACORD's research 'Gender-sensitive Design and Planning in Conflict-Affected Situations', carried out during 2000 and 2001 in five communities living in the shadow of violent conflict in Juba (Sudan), Gulu (Uganda), Luanda (Angola), Timbuktu (Mali) and the Lower Shabelle region (Somalia). It also includes analysis of data collected earlier in Eritrea and Rwanda. Two main questions are examined in this book: What is the impact of war on gender relations? And can gender relations contribute to conflict?

The analysis in this book explores the term 'gender relations' and unravels it into gender 'roles', 'identities', 'ideologies' and 'institutions/power structures', examining how each of these changes as a result of war. It finds that, while gender is a factor in perpetuating violence, it is also a factor in rebuilding social relations and peace.

This book also addresses the challenges in methodologies and tools for research in turbulence. The aim is to develop flexible and sensitive research methods that go beyond information collection into engaging in joint reflection with communities about issues confronting them. Agencies should no longer continue to work only 'in' conflict rendering practical services, but also jointly work 'on' it with communities to analyse and address the factors which perpetuate it.

Keywords: gender relations, armed conflict, violence, oral testimony, Uganda, Sudan, Mali, Angola, Somalia


Table of Contents:

Working 'in' and working 'on' violent conflict
The evolution of gender policy
Development research and its place in operational development practice
Aims and structure of the present volume


The historical background to the war in Uganda
Gender and ethnic identity in Acholiland
The impact of the war on the Acholi community
Ethnic and gender norms as contributory factors in the dynamics of conflict

The historical background to the war in the Sudan
Impact of conflict on Juba and the surrounding area
Impacts on individual men and women
Impact of the war on gender relations
Gender identity and its contribution to conflict

The historical background to the conflict in Somalia
The impact of the war on the Lower Shabelle region
The impact on individual men and women
Impact on different clan groups
Impact on gender relations

Historical background to the conflict in Angola
A sketch of the research area
The impact of the war on Km 9
The impact of the conflict on gender relations in Km 9
Gender identity and its contributions to the conflict situation

Historical background to the rebellion in northern Mali
Impact of conflict on the Timbuktu area
The impact of the rebellion on gender relations



Economic impacts: livelihoods and the division of labour
The personal dimensions of social change in war: marriage and sexuality
Discussion on war and the nature of social change: Do gender relations change?
Gender roles
Gender identities
Gender institutions/power structures
Gender ideologies
Analysing gender relations: a framework
Lessons and challenges
Livelihoods, vulnerability and autonomy
Gender and social justice
Rebuilding institutions


Power and patriarchy: conceptual resources for conflict analysis
Complexity and conflict
Gender, power, identity and violence
Patriarchy and the structures of oppressive power
Evidence from the case studies
Patriarchy and violent struggles for identity and control
Gender identity and its impact on cycles of violence
Gender impact flowchart: 'how gender identity can contribute to cycles of violence'
The complexity of conflict causes and impacts
Ways out: strategies for conflict transformation


The research process
The strengths and weaknesses of oral testimony as a research method
Open-ended and participatory research as a tool for development


Annex 1: Social exclusion analysis
Annex 2: Summary of conflict impacts in northern Mali
Annex 3: Timbuktu Guidelines on Oral Testimony

Full Report:

Book Reviews of Cycles of Violence:

By Susan McKay:

Topics: Armed Conflict, Economies, Gender, Gender Roles, Gender Analysis, Gender-Based Violence, Gendered Power Relations, Livelihoods Regions: Africa, East Africa, Southern Africa, West Africa Countries: Angola, Mali, Somalia, Sudan, Uganda

Year: 2005

Women’s Land Rights in Post-Conflict Angola


Nielsen, Robin. 2008. Women’s Land Rights in Post-Conflict Angola. 125. Seattle: Rural Development Institute.

Author: Robin Nielsen


As it emerges from almost 30 years of civil war, Angola has worked hard to establish the rule of law in a highly pluralistic society. Although it has enacted legislation that articulates gender equity, customary laws and traditional practices prevail in the lives of most Angolans. These customs favor men over women, and, as a result, the majority of Angolan women remain trapped by illiteracy, limited economic opportunities, and the need to care for children and relatives. With 70 percent of Angola’s population living on less than $2 per day, and more than half the population reliant on agriculture for their livelihoods, secure land tenure is a critical issue.

Topics: Armed Conflict, Civil Wars, Economies, Economic Inequality, Poverty, Gender, Women, Gendered Power Relations, Gender Hierarchies, Gender Equity, Livelihoods, Rights, Land Rights, Women's Rights Regions: Africa, Southern Africa Countries: Angola

Year: 2008

Reintegrating Young Combatants: do child-centred approaches leave children—and adults—behind?


McMullin, Jaremy. 2011. “Reintegrating Young Combatants: Do Child-Centred Approaches Leave Children—and Adults—behind?” Third World Quarterly 32 (4): 743–64.

Author: Jaremy McMullin


This article uses recent experience in Angola to demonstrate that young fighters were not adequately or effectively assisted after war ended in 2002. The government's framework excluded children from accessing formal disarmament, demobilisation and reintegration (DDR) programmes, and its subsequent attempts to target children have largely failed. More critically the case of Angola calls into question the broader effectiveness and appropriateness of child-centred DDR. First, such targeting is inappropriate to distinct postconflict contexts and constructs a 'template child' asserted to be more vulnerable and deserving than adult ex-combatants, which does little to further the reintegration of either group, or the rights of the child in a conflict context. Second, child-centred reintegration efforts tend to deny children agency as actors in their own reintegration. Third, such efforts contribute to the normalisation of a much larger ideational and structural flaw of post-conflict peace building, wherein 'success' is construed as the reintegration of large numbers of beneficiaries back into the poverty and marginalisation that contributed to conflict in the first place.

Topics: Armed Conflict, Combatants, Child Soldiers, DDR, Gender, Girls, Boys, Peacebuilding, Post-Conflict Regions: Africa, Southern Africa Countries: Angola

Year: 2011

Girl Soldiers and Human Rights: Lessons from Angola, Mozambique, Sierra Leone and Northern Uganda


Denov, Myriam. 2008. “Girl Soldiers and Human Rights: Lessons from Angola, Mozambique, Sierra Leone and Northern Uganda.” International Journal of Human Rights 12 (5): 813–36.

Author: Myriam Denov


The issue of child soldiers has become an issue of global concern. More than 250,000 soldiers under the age of 18 are fighting in conflicts in over 40 countries around the world. While there is ample descriptive evidence of the conditions and factors underlying the rise of child soldiery in the developing world, most of the literature has portrayed this as a uniquely male phenomenon, ultimately neglecting the experiences and perspectives of girls within fighting forces. Drawing upon the findings of three studies funded by the Canadian International Development Agency's Child Protection Research Fund, this paper traces the perspectives and experiences of girls as victims and participants of violence and armed conflict in Angola, Sierra Leone, Mozambique, and Northern Uganda. The three studies collectively reveal three salient themes. First, whether in the heat of conflict or within post-war programming, girls are, for the most part, rendered invisible and marginalised. Second, in spite of this profound invisibility and marginalisation, girls are fundamental to the war machine—their operational contributions are integral and critical to the overall functioning of armed groups. Third, girls in fighting forces contend with overwhelming experiences of victimisation, perpetration, and insecurity. In the aftermath of conflict, girls arguably bear a form of secondary victimisation through socio-economic marginalisation and exclusion, as well as the ongoing threats to their health and personal security.

Topics: Armed Conflict, Combatants, Child Soldiers, Gender, Girls, Health, Military Forces & Armed Groups, Non-state Armed Groups, Rights, Human Rights, Security, Human Security, Violence Regions: Africa, East Africa, Southern Africa, West Africa Countries: Angola, Mozambique, Sierra Leone, Uganda

Year: 2008

Unexpected Low Prevalence of HIV Among Fertile Women in Luanda, Angola. Does War Prevent the Spread of HIV?


Strand, R. T., L. Fernandes Dias, S. Bergström, and S. Andersson. 2007. “Unexpected Low Prevalence of HIV Among Fertile Women in Luanda, Angola. Does War Prevent the Spread of HIV?” International Journal of STD & AIDS 18 (7): 467–71. doi:10.1258/095646207781147300.

Authors: R. T. Strand, L. Fernandes Dias, S. Bergström, S. Andersson


We studied HIV prevalence and risk factors for HIV infection among fertile women in Luanda for the purposes of obtaining background data for planning of interventions as well as to look into the association of armed conflicts and HIV prevalence in sub-Saharan Africa. The HIV-1 prevalence was 1.7% in an antenatal care group (n = 517) and 1.9% in a family planning group (n = 518). Socioeconomic and sexual background factors did not significantly differ HIV-positive from HIV-negative women. Data on armed conflict factors were matched with HIV prevalence figures among pregnant women in sub-Saharan Africa. The level of armed conflicts was found to be inversely related to HIV prevalence. The low HIV seroprevalence in Luanda is in sharp contrast to the capitals of neighbouring countries. While the spread of HIV may have been hampered by the long armed conflict in the country, it is feared to increase rapidly with the return of soldiers and refugees in a post-war situation. The challenge for preventive actions is urgent. This example may be relevant to other areas with a recent end-of-war situation.

Topics: Armed Conflict, Gender, Women, Health, HIV/AIDS, Mental Health, Reproductive Health Regions: Africa, Southern Africa Countries: Angola

Year: 2007

A Human Rights Approach to Protecting People Living with HIV/AIDS in Angola


Flechner, David. 2005. “A Human Rights Approach to Protecting People Living with HIV/AIDS in Angola.” International Social Science Journal 57 (186): 627-37.

Author: David Flechner


The official end of Angola's decades-long civil war in 2002 presented the government with an opportunity to channel its attention and resources into confronting the nation's profound social challenges. Principal among these is the need to prevent the spread of HIV/AIDS while also supporting those already living with the virus. While the civil conflict hampered national and cross-border mobility, and consequently slowed the rate of HIV/AIDS transmission, the post-war situation could now lead to a rapid increase in infections, rising to the devastating proportions already decimating the populations in its neighbouring countries. A key strategy for mitigating the impact of HIV/AIDS that has already yielded some positive results is the use of human rights mechanisms to protect those living with the virus. This article first analyses the context in which the epidemic has begun to spread at an increased rate since the end of Angola's civil war. It then explores how the existing international, regional, and domestic human rights instruments to which Angola has adhered guarantee to protect people living with HIV/AIDS and, if enforced more consistently and comprehensively, will prove to be powerful tools in confronting the epidemic.

Topics: Armed Conflict, Civil Wars, Health, HIV/AIDS, Post-Conflict, Rights, Human Rights Regions: Africa, Southern Africa Countries: Angola

Year: 2005


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