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Building Meaningful Participation in Reintegration Among War-Affected Young Mothers in Liberia, Sierra Leone and Northern Uganda


McKay, Susan, Angela Veale, Miranda Worthen, and Michael Wessells. 2011. “Building Meaningful Participation in Reintegration among War-Affected Young Mothers in Liberia, Sierra Leone and Northern Uganda.” Intervention 9 (2): 108–24. doi:10.1097/WTF.0b013e328348dfe7.

Authors: Susan McKay, Angela Veale, Miranda E. Worthen , Michael Wessels


When young mothers formerly associated with armed groups return to communities, they typically are social isolated, stigmatized, and marginalized thereby making (re)integration challenging for themselves and their communities. Their children face child protection problems such as neglect, rejection, and abuse. In this paper, we describe an innovative field practice - community-based participatory action research (PAR) - that meaningfully involved war-affected young mothers. The project took place in 20 field sites in Liberia, northern Uganda and Sierra Leone and was implemented through an academic-nongovernmental (NGO) partnership. Participants were 658 young mothers, both formerly associated and other vulnerable mothers. Within the context of caring psychosocial support, these young mothers organized themselves into groups, defined their problems, and developed social actions to address and change their situations. Project outcomes included young mothers and their children experiencing improved social reintegration and acceptance, more positive coping skills, and decreased participation in sex work for livelihoods.

Keywords: Participatory Action Research, War-Affected Young Mothers, Meaningful Participation, Liberia, Northern Uganda, Sierra Leone, reintegration

Topics: Age, Armed Conflict, Combatants, Female Combatants, Gender, Women, Post-Conflict Regions: Africa, East Africa, West Africa Countries: Liberia, Sierra Leone, Uganda

Year: 2011

Forced Marriage within the Lord’s Resistance Army, Uganda


Carlson, Kristopher, and Dyan Mazurana. 2008. Forced Marriage within the Lord’s Resistance Army, Uganda. Somerville, MA: Feinstein International Center.

Authors: Kristopher Carlson, Dyan Mazurana


The Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA)—a rebel movement fighting the government of Uganda—is estimated to have kidnapped over 60,000 Ugandan children and youth. Those abducted include one in three male adolescents and one in six female adolescents in northern Ugandan. While in captivity thousands of abducted young women and girls—most of whom are from the Acholi, Lango, and Iteso peoples—fought, cooked, carried supplies, fetched water, and cleaned for LRA fighters and commanders, including those who organized and carried out their abductions. Many of those abducted also served as forced wives to male members of the group. Half of those forced into marriage bore children. A minority of abducted females was forced to fight and some used violence against their own communities.

This report is based on in-depth investigation, primarily drawing on the testimony of 103 women and girls who were abducted and forced into marriage with LRA combatants. The authors also interviewed parents and family members of abducted females; ex-LRA combatants; religious, clan, and community leaders; local government officials; Acholi and Langi clan leaders and people responsible for customary law; lawyers, and local, national, and international NGOs working in northern Uganda. (Feinstein International Center)

Topics: Armed Conflict, Gender, Military Forces & Armed Groups, Non-state Armed Groups, Sexual Violence Regions: Africa, East Africa Countries: Uganda

Year: 2008

The Implementation of Quotas: African Experiences


Ballington, Julie, ed. 2004. The Implementation of Quotas: African Experiences. Stockholm: The International Institute for Democracy and Electoral Assistance.

Author: Julie Ballington


This report examines women’s political representation on the African continent, and shows how quotas have contributed to increasing women’s access to political power. Gender quotas are now increasingly viewed as an important policy measure for boosting women’s access to decision-making bodies throughout the world. Experience from Africa is very encouraging: over 20 countries on the continent either have legislated quotas or political parties that have adopted them voluntarily. This report illustrates the different quota types that are being implemented in different political contexts.

The report includes 17 regional and country case studies. The country case studies include Egypt, Mauritius, Morocco, Mozambique, Namibia, Senegal, South Africa, Tanzania, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Rwanda and Uganda. (IDEA)

Topics: Gender, Women, Governance, Quotas, Political Participation Regions: Africa, MENA, Central Africa, East Africa, North Africa, Southern Africa, West Africa Countries: Democratic Republic of the Congo, Egypt, Mauritius, Morocco, Mozambique, Namibia, Rwanda, Senegal, South Africa, Tanzania, Uganda

Year: 2004

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

Gender, Local Justice, and Ownership: Confronting Masculinities and Femininities in Northern Uganda


Anderson, Jessica L. 2009. “Gender, Local Justice, and Ownership: Confronting Masculinities and Femininities in Northern Uganda.” Peace Research 41 (2): 59–83.

Author: Jessica L. Anderson


This article describes the livelihood structures of internally displaced men and women during Uganda's civil war, how these livelihood structures affect femininities and masculinities, and how they inform mens and women's opinions on transitional justice. It argues that insecurity and deprivation in northern Uganda's displacement camps during the country's twenty-four years of conflict have had a significant impact on the construction of masculinities and femininities in the region. Both men and women crave agency in their daily lives following this prolonged period of displacement and disempowerment. This sense of ownership refers to different forms of communal and individual reparation and the local practice of mato oput, a restorative justice process that has been criticized as gender insensitive. Acholi men's and women's support for the practice of mato oput points to the need to adopt a more thoughtful perspective on gender justice that balances international values with the ideas and desires of war survivors. Acholi men and women request control and ownership over justice mechanisms as an integral part of their conception of justice. Through examining such requests, this article analyses the ways in which Acholi men and women desire ownership and how a transitional justice process can extend and bolster this ownership.

Topics: Armed Conflict, Civil Wars, Displacement & Migration, IDPs, Domestic Violence, Gender, Masculinity/ies, Gender Roles, Femininity/ies, Gender-Based Violence, Gendered Power Relations, Gender Hierarchies, Health, Trauma, Households, Justice, Transitional Justice, Livelihoods, Post-Conflict, Post-Conflict Reconstruction, Rights, Security, Human Security Regions: Africa, East Africa Countries: Uganda

Year: 2009

Gender, Conflict, and Peace-Building: How Conflict Can Catalyse Positive Change for Women


Arostegui, Julie. 2013. "Gender, Conflict, and Peace-Building: How Conflict Can Catalyse Positive Change for Women." Gender & Development 21 (3): 533-49. doi:10.1080/13552074.2013.846624.

Author: Julie Arostegui


Although modern-day armed conflict is horrific for women, recent conflict and postconflict periods have provided women with new platforms and opportunities to bring about change. The roles of women alter and expand during conflict as they participate in the struggles and take on more economic responsibilities and duties as heads of households. The trauma of the conflict experience also provides an opportunity for women to come together with a common agenda. In some contexts, these changes have led women to become activists, advocating for peace and long-term transformation in their societies. This article explores how women have seized on the opportunities available to them to drive this advocacy forward: including the establishment of an international framework on women, peace, and security that includes United Nations Security Council Resolution 1325 and other international agreements and commitments to involving women in post-conflict peace-building. The article is based on on-the-ground research and capacity-building activities carried out in the Great Lakes Region of Africa on the integration of international standards on gender equality and women's rights into post-conflict legal systems.

Keywords: women, peace and security, gender, conflict, peace building, UN Security Council Resolution 1325, gender policy, women's empowerment, women's advocacy, Maputo Protocol, International Conference on the Great Lakes Region

Topics: Armed Conflict, Development, Gender, Women, Gendered Power Relations, Gender Equity, Health, Trauma, Households, International Organizations, Peacebuilding, Post-Conflict, Rights, Women's Rights, Security, UN Security Council Resolutions on WPS, UNSCR 1325 Regions: Africa, Central Africa, East Africa Countries: Rwanda, South Sudan, Uganda

Year: 2013

Women’s Land Rights & Privatization in Eastern Africa


Daley, Elizabeth, and Brigit Englert, eds. 2008. Women’s Land Rights & Privatization in Eastern Africa. Oxford, UK: James Currey.

Authors: Birgit Englert , Elizabeth Daley


This volume focuses on the impact on women's land rights from the contemporary drive towards the formulation and implementation of land tenure reforms which aim primarily at the private registration of land. It is solidly grounded in the findings from seven case studies, all based on in-depth qualitative research, from various regions of Tanzania, Kenya, Uganda and Rwanda. The detailed, local level research in this volume not only challenges the status quo, but demonstrates that another world is possible and documents the many ways women in Eastern Africa are finding to ensure their rights to land. Birgit Englert is Assistant Professor in the Department of African Studies at the University of Vienna, Austria; Elizabeth Daley is an independent land consultant. (James Currey)

Topics: Gender, Women, Privatization, Rights, Land Rights, Women's Rights Regions: Africa, Central Africa, East Africa Countries: Kenya, Rwanda, Tanzania, Uganda

Year: 2008

Land, Livelihoods and Identities: Inter-Community Conflicts in East Africa


Young, Laura A., and Korir Sing’Oei. 2011. Land, Livelihoods and Identities: Inter-Community Conflicts in East Africa. London: Minority Rights Group International.

Authors: Laura A. Young, Korir Sing’Oei


In resource-scarce East Africa, minority groups face major challenges over the control of and access to land and natural resources. Minorities find themselves competing with other communities, with the state, and with corporate interests for control of resources upon which they depend for their livelihood, culture and future development. This report describes the situation of selected minorities and their neighbouring groups in Kenya, Uganda and South Sudan’s Jonglei State. As globalization, population explosion, and climate change converge to increase the demand for land and other resources, these communities face extreme livelihood challenges, vulnerability to conflict, and ongoing discrimination.

This report documents case studies from a diverse array of communities dealing with different multiple types of conflict, from mineral extraction to cattle rustling, to drought, to inter ethnic violence to the creation of national parks for tourism. It also outlines MRG's key recommendations on this issue. (Minority Rights Group International)

Topics: Economies, Ethnicity, Gender, Gendered Power Relations, Patriarchy, Globalization, Governance, Livelihoods, Political Economies, Rights, Land Rights, Property Rights, Women's Rights Regions: Africa, East Africa Countries: Kenya, South Sudan, Uganda

Year: 2011

Women’s Property Rights HIV and AIDS & Domestic Violence: Research Findings from Two Districts in South Africa and Uganda


Swaminathan, Hema. 2008. Women’s Property Rights HIV and AIDS & Domestic Violence: Research Findings from Two Districts in South Africa and Uganda. Cape Town, ZA: Human Sciences Research Council.

Author: Hema Swaminathan


Women's property and inheritance rights are recognised in international law and in a growing number of countries worldwide, yet women in many developing countries do not have the right to own or inherit property. At the same time, women are increasingly heading up households and are in critical need of land and property for economic security, particularly in the context of the AIDS epidemic - in fact, secure property rights are believed to be a factor in reducing women's risk of contracting HIV and in protecting them from domestic violence. To better understand the role of tenure security in protecting against, and mitigating the effects of, HIV and violence, this book explores these linkages in Amajuba, South Africa and Iganga, Uganda. Results from the qualitative study revealed that property ownership, while not easily linked to women's ability to prevent HIV infection, can nonetheless mitigate the impact of AIDS, and enhance a woman's ability to leave a violent situation. (HSRC Press)

Topics: Domestic Violence, Economies, Gender, Women, Health, HIV/AIDS, Households, International Law, Rights, Property Rights, Women's Rights Regions: Africa, East Africa, Southern Africa Countries: South Africa, Uganda

Year: 2008

Challenges and Opportunities for Women’s Land Rights in Post-Conflict Northern Uganda


Kindi, Fredrick Immanuel. 2010. “Challenges and Opportunities for Women’s Land Rights in Post-Conflict Northern Uganda.” Working Paper 26, MICROCON-A Micro Level Analysis of Violent Conflict, Brighton.

Author: Fredrick Immanuel Kindi


Since the late 1980s to 2006, the northern region of Uganda underwent an armed conflict between the government of Uganda and the rebel group led by Joseph Kony. The conflict displaced virtually the entire population in the region, and by 1990 people were living in internally displaced peoples’ camps. As the war winds up, many people have left the camps returning to their former villages. The journey back home has not been easy, however. For women in particular, many are facing a lot of challenges especially related to access, ownership and use of land. Using data that was qualitatively gathered in two IDP camps in Gulu district, northern Uganda, the paper examines these challenges. It argues however that despite the challenges, opportunities do exist that can be exploited, if there is commitment by various stakeholders, to ensure that women access, own and use land in the return process.



“In this paper I examine the challenges of women’s land rights in the return process in the region. I also assess the effectiveness of Peace, Recovery and Development Plan in addressing these challenges in the post conflict reconstruction. I conclude by noting the opportunities that can be exploited to address some of the challenges in the post conflict reconstruction.” (3)

“In situations of high mortality of men during the war, the women who have survived have found it difficult to secure access to land that was formerly owned or jointly owned by the husbands or with other male relatives. This is because such women might be denied access to land by their in-laws or by other surviving male relatives. This phenomenon has been widely reported in countries that have experienced armed conflicts. For instance, UNHCR (2001) noted that in the aftermath of the genocide and massacres of 1994 in Rwanda, many women who became widows met stiff resistance from in-laws or male members of their own family in accessing land. While in Kenya Mwagiru (2001: 19) reported that the conflicts of 1991-1993, including one of 1997 due to general elections, had serious consequences that adversely affected social patterns, including access to land and property rights.” (5)

“As Hetz, et al (2007) argued, the time span of displacement tends often to correlate with the incidences of disputes and conflicts over access to land and land rights. In such a context, women’s chances to own and access land are thinned as most of them flee from such conflicts.” (5)

Topics: Armed Conflict, Displacement & Migration, IDPs, Refugee/IDP Camps, Gender, Women, Governance, Military Forces & Armed Groups, Militaries, Non-state Armed Groups, Post-Conflict, Post-Conflict Reconstruction, Rights, Land Rights, Women's Rights Regions: Africa, East Africa Countries: Uganda

Year: 2010


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