Marginalization of girl mothers during reintegration from armed groups in Sierra Leone


Burman, Mary, and Suzan McKay. 2007. “Marginalization of girl mothers during reintegration from armed groups in Sierra Leone.” International Nursing Review 54 (4): 316-23.

Authors: Mary Burman, Suzan McKay


BACKGROUND: Although the widespread presence of girls who participate in fighting forces is increasingly recognized, they remain a highly marginalized group globally, receiving little attention either during or after armed conflict. This is especially true for "girl mothers," girls who return to communities with children born while members of fighting forces.

AIM: The concept of marginalization (Hall et al. 1994) is used to examine what happens to girl soldiers, especially girl mothers, in the aftermath of armed conflict when they seek to reintegrate back into their communities.

METHODS: This analysis, as part of a larger study of reintegration of girl mothers, is based on field work with girls who were in fighting forces in northwest Sierra Leone, especially those who returned with children.

FINDINGS: The type and level of marginalization these girls experience is consistent with the conceptualization of marginalization; however, they lack voice and experience shame and vulnerability. Moreover, economics were fundamentally related to their marginalization. The girls' access to resources was significantly constrained because the area was heavily impacted by the war and because of widespread poverty throughout Sierra Leone.

DISCUSSION: The findings raise important questions about marginalization of girls affected by war. Girls and girl mothers experience an extremely high level of marginalization; however, some aspects are not consistent with the original conceptualization of marginalization. Theory development in nursing needs to incorporate multiple voices, especially those of the very marginalized and be done in such a manner that benefits and empowers.

Topics: Armed Conflict, Combatants, Child Soldiers, Female Combatants, Gender, Girls, Post-Conflict Regions: Africa, West Africa Countries: Sierra Leone

Year: 2007

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