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

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