Empowerment Boom or Bust? Assessing Women's Post-Conflict Empowerment Initiatives


MacKenzie, Megan. 2009. “Empowerment Boom or Bust? Assessing Women's Post-Conflict Empowerment Initiatives” Cambridge Review of International Affairs 22 (2): 199-215. 

Author: Megan MacKenzie


Over the past decade, the term ‘empowerment’ has been generously employed and woefully ill-defined. In particular, women’s empowerment has been embraced by such a vast number of development actors that it appears to be a unifying mission within development. Despite the boom in women’s empowerment initiatives, there remains little critical analysis of the use of empowerment in general, and the perceived success or failures of specific empowerment initiatives. Using the disarmament, demobilization and reintegration process in Sierra Leone as a case study, this paper examines how reintegration was described as a source of empowerment for women. Drawing from interviews and analysis of related policy discourses, it is argued that, rather than representing a radical shift in development approaches towards more inclusive and representative policies, empowerment projects are shaped by neoliberal ideas such as individualism, responsibility and economic order and carry implicit, gendered and disciplining messages about appropriate social behaviour.

Topics: Armed Conflict, DDR, Development, Economies, Gender, Women, Gender Roles Regions: Africa, West Africa Countries: Sierra Leone

Year: 2009

The Political Economy of DDR in Liberia: A Gendered Critique


Jennings, Kathleen M. 2009. “The Political Economy of DDR in Liberia: A Gendered Critique.” Conflict, Security & Development 9 (4): 475-94. 

Author: Kathleen M. Jennings


This paper examines the reintegration component of the disarmament, demobilisation and reintegration (DDR) programme in Liberia from a critical gendered perspective. Building on previous arguments pertaining to the securitisation of reintegration in Liberia, the paper considers the highly gendered impetus and impact of both the reintegration project and the securitising act. I argue that Liberian DDR was devised and justified according to assumptions that are default male, thus causing the programme to overlook women except as passive victims of conflict, or as add-ons secondary to the ‘real’ purpose of reintegration. Accordingly, the programme both naturalised specific gendered binaries and favoured moves that would buttress and extend them, for example, by problematizing male unemployment and privileging male entry into the formal economy. The paper first explains the securitisation of reintegration in Liberia, before turning to a gendered critique focusing on the political symbolic and political economic impacts of said reintegration.


Topics: Armed Conflict, DDR, Feminisms, Gender, Women, Gender Analysis, Security Regions: Africa, West Africa Countries: Liberia

Year: 2009

Reconstructing Fragile Lives: Girls’ Social Reintegration in Northern Uganda and Sierra Leone


McKay, Susan. 2004. “Reconstructing Fragile Lives: Girls’ Social Reintegration in Northern Uganda and Sierra Leone.” Gender & Development 12 (3): 19–30.

Author: Susan McKay


In many contemporary African wars, girls and women participate in fighting forces. Their involvement is sometimes voluntary, but often they are coerced or abducted. In these forces, their roles range from porters, domestics, and 'wives' of male fighters, to spies and commanders. Few girls go through official UN processes of disarmament, demobilisation, and reintegration (DDR). Their human rights severely violated, girls face enormous challenges to physical and psycho-social recovery. Typically, they return directly to their communities, or migrate to where friends or relatives live, or resettle in urban areas, where they are at increased risk of forced prostitution, sexual assault, and/or sexually transmitted diseases, including H IV/AIDS. This paper examines the experiences of girls who have returned from fighting forces in the recent conflict in Sierra Leone and the continuing conflict in northern Uganda. These experiences are compared with those of women who recalled their experiences when they were girl participants during the Mozambican war which ended in 1992.

Topics: Combatants, Female Combatants, DDR, Gender-Based Violence, Health, Post-Conflict, Rights, Human Rights, Sexual Violence, Sexual Exploitation and Abuse Regions: Africa, East Africa, West Africa Countries: Sierra Leone, Uganda

Year: 2004

La experiencia de jóvenes mujeres como combatientes de la guerrilla de las FARC y del ELN


Niño Vega, Nohora Constanza. 2016. “La experiencia de jóvenes mujeres como combatientes de la guerrilla de las FARC y del ELN.” DESIDADES - Revista Eletrônica de Divulgação Científica da Infância e Juventude 0 (11): 32-40.

Author: Nohora Constanza Niño Vega


El presente artículo tiene como objetivo presentar hallazgos acerca de cómo la participación entanto combatientes de las guerrillas de las FARC y el ELN en Colombia tensiona la experienciade ser niña y joven y la construcción de las categorías de infancia y juventud en cinco jóvenesexcombatientes de estas guerrillas.

Keywords: infancia, juventud, guerilla, habitus guerrero, vida civil

Topics: Combatants, Female Combatants, DDR, Gender, Women, Girls, Post-Conflict Regions: Americas, South America Countries: Colombia

Year: 2016

Análisis de la problemática del feminicidio en un posible escenario de posconflicto


Huertas-Díaz, Omar, María Cristina Patiño-González, and Angie Lorena Lorena Ruíz-Herrera. 2016. “Análisis de la problemática del feminicidio en un posible escenario de posconflicto.” Principia Iuris 12 (23): 186–215.

Authors: Omar Huertas-Díaz, María Cristina Patiño-González, Angie Lorena Lorena Ruíz-Herrera


Este trabajo destaca la interdependencia existente entre los contextos públicos y privados de relacionamiento, lo cual se evidencia en la normalización de la violencia como forma de resolución de los conflictos. Esta normalización es el resultado de una historia caracterizada por las confrontaciones armadas, especialmente desde el establecimiento de organizaciones guerrilleras y paramilitares en el país. En paralelo a esta normalización, se encuentra la consolidación de imaginarios de género que relegan a la mujer a una posición de víctima u objeto sexual que se refleja en las acciones de los combatientes tanto en las acciones emprendidas bajo el contexto de la confrontación, como en las que se desarrollan luego de la dejación de las armas. Ante este panorama, el trabajo plantea la necesidad de considerar tales imaginarios de género, especialmente sobre aquellos individuos cuyas nociones de pensamiento se vieron moldeadas por su pertenencia a una organización militar, teniendo en cuenta el posible escenario de posconflicto y en consecuencia la salida de la guerra de cientos de hombres y mujeres combatientes; esto en miras de la prevención de actos de violencia contra la mujer, específicamente de actos de feminicidio. En este sentido, la formulación de estrategias dirigidas a la prevención y erradicación de la violencia contra la mujer deben considerar no sólo medidas de carácter punitivo ejemplificado con la reciente Ley 1761, sino también la reconstrucción de las estructuras de pensamiento que sustentan tales violencias.

Keywords: violencia contra la mujer, femenicidio, violencia sexual, imaginarios de género, desmovilizados, proceso de paz, posconflicto, Ley 1761

Topics: Combatants, DDR, Gender, Women, Post-Conflict, Peace Processes, Sexual Violence, Violence Regions: Americas, South America Countries: Colombia

Year: 2016

Peace in Colombia: A Time to Believe?


Theidon, Kimberly. 2016. “Peace in Colombia: A Time to Believe?” Current History, no. Feb 2016 (February): 51–56.

Author: Kimberly Theidon


December 15, 2015, was not just any day in Havana, Cuba. Negotiators gathered in El Laguito, the site of peace negotiations between the Colombian government and the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, were preparing to announce the results of the 45th round of talks that began three years ago. Now the negotiations had turned to reparations for victims of the longest-running war in the Western Hemisphere. They produced a controversial yet crucial accord that includes both judicial measures to investigate and sanction violations of human rights and international humanitarian law, and extrajudicial measures such as truth-seeking, locating the disappeared, and providing individual and collective reparations to victims of the conflict. The atmosphere was by turns somber and optimistic, reflecting the hopes, doubts, and controversies that have shadowed the peace process. Ending the day on a hopeful note, the government's lead negotiator Humberto de la Calle insisted: "Peace is possible. The time has come to believe in peace."

Topics: Armed Conflict, Combatants, Female Combatants, Male Combatants, DDR, Gender, Women, Peace Processes Regions: Americas, South America Countries: Colombia

Year: 2016

Feminine Militancy: Moudjahidates During and After the Algerian War


Bouatta, C. 1994. “Feminine Militancy: Moudjahidates During and After the Algerian War.” In Gender and National Identity, edited by Valentine Moghadam, 192. London: Zed Books.

Author: C. Bouatta


Gender politics exist inevitably in all Islamist movements that expect women to assume the burden of a largely male-defined tradition. Even in secular political movements in the Muslim world - notably those anti-colonial national liberation movements where women were actively involved- women have experiences since independence a general reversal of the gains made. This collection written by women from the countries concerned explores the gender dynamics of a variety of political movements with very different trajectories to reveal how nationalism, revolution and Islamization are all gendered processes.  The authors explore women's experiences in the Algerian national liberation movement and more recently the fundamentalist FIS; similarly their involvement in the struggle to construct a Bengali national identity and independent Bangladeshi state; the events leading to the overthrow of the Shah and subsequent Islamization of Iran; revolution and civil war in Afghanistan; and the Palestinian Intifada.  This book argues that in periods of rapid political change, women in Muslim societies are in reality central to efforts to construct a national identity. (Zed Books)

Topics: Armed Conflict, National Liberation Wars, Combatants, Female Combatants, DDR, Gender, Women, Violence Regions: Africa, MENA, North Africa, Asia, Middle East, South Asia Countries: Afghanistan, Algeria, Bangladesh, Iran, Palestine / Occupied Palestinian Territories

Year: 1994

African Conflicts and Informal Power : Big Men and Networks


Utas, Mats, ed. 2012. African Conflicts and Informal Power : Big Men and Networks. Zed Books Ltd. 

Author: Mats Utas


In the aftermath of an armed conflict in Africa, the international community both produces and demands from local partners a variety of blueprints for reconstructing state and society. The aim is to re-formalize the state after what is viewed as a period of fragmentation. In reality, African economies and polities are very much informal in character, with informal actors, including so-called Big Men, often using their positions in the formal structure as a means to reach their own goals. Through a variety of in-depth case studies, including the DRC, Sierra Leone and Liberia, African Conflicts and Informal Power shows how important informal political and economic networks are in many of the continent's conflict areas. Moreover, it demonstrates that without a proper understanding of the impact of these networks, attempts to formalize African states, particularly those emerging from wars, will be in vain (WorldCat).


Part one: Country Case Studies

  1. Informal political structures, resources and the Ugandan army; military entrepreneurialism in the Ugandan-Congolese borderland - Koen Vlassenroot and Sandrine Perot
  2. Big Man Business in the Borderland of Sierra Leone - Maya Mynster Christensen
  3. The politics of impersonation: Corps habillés, Nouchis, and subaltern Bigmanity in Côte d’Ivoire - Karel Arnaut
  4. Demobilized or remobilized? Liberia’s remaining rebel structures in post-war security settings - Mariam Persson
  5. Castles in the sand’: Informal networks and power brokers in the Northern Mali periphery - Morten Böås


Part 2: Thematic Case Studies


  1. Critical states and cocaine connections - By Henrik Vigh
  2. African Big Men and international criminal justice: the case of Sierra Leone - By Gerhard Anders
  3. Big Man bargaining in African conflicts - By Ilmari Käihkö
  4. Intermediaries of peace or agents of war: the role of ex-midlevel commanders in Big Man networks - By Anders Themnér
  5. The Big Men commanding conflict resources in Africa: the DRC case - By Ruben de Koning

Topics: Armed Conflict, DDR, Post-Conflict, Post-Conflict Reconstruction Regions: Africa, Central Africa, West Africa Countries: Democratic Republic of the Congo, Liberia, Sierra Leone

Year: 2012

Women in Post-Conflict Reconstruction: Dilemmas and Directions


Cahn, Naomi. 2006. “Women in Post-Conflict Reconstruction: Dilemmas and Directions.” William & Mary Journal of Women and the Law 12 (2): 335.


Author: Naomi Cahn




A. Problems in Establishing the Post Conflict Framework

B. Problems with Post Conflict Donor Aid and Special Needs of Women


A. Deconstructing DDR Programs

B. Reconstructing DDR Programs

1. Redesigning DDR Programs with Gender Centrality

2. Reconceptualizing DDR


A. The Scope of the Problem

B. International Law and Violence Against Women

C. Additional Means of Justice

D. The Need for Domestic Reforms Regarding Women’s Rights and Status

1. Developing a Model Statute

2. Changing Existing Law

3. Implementation

a. Gender-Sensitive Support

b. Gender-Sensitive Policies within the Legal System '

4. What Difference Does It Make: Why Change Domestic Rape Laws?

E. Rape Laws and Gender Equity


Topics: DDR, Gender, Women, International Law, International Criminal Law, International Humanitarian Law (IHL), Justice, Transitional Justice, Post-Conflict, Post-Conflict Reconstruction, Sexual Violence, SV against Women

Year: 2006

Gender in Climate Change and Disaster Risk Reduction, Manila, October 2008


Smyth, Ines. “Gender in Climate Change and Disaster Risk Reduction, Manila, October 2008.” Development in Practice 19, no. 6 (2009): 799–802.

Author: Ines Smyth


The Congress on Gender in Climate Change and Disaster Risk Reduction (held in Manila 19–22 October 2008) was the Third Global Congress of Women in Politics and Governance. Its purpose was to provide a forum for decision makers to formulate gender-responsive programmes related to climate change and disaster-risk reduction. More than 200 people participated, including parliamentarians, representatives of environmental and women's organisations, and donor agencies. Proceedings focused on the fact that climate change magnifies existing inequalities, and in particular gender inequality. The Congress issued the Manila Declaration for Global Action on Gender, Climate Change, and Disaster Risk Reduction.

Keywords: environment, gender and diversity, Governance and public policy, East Asia

Topics: DDR, Environment, Climate Change, Environmental Disasters, Gender, Gender Mainstreaming, Governance Regions: Asia, Southeast Asia Countries: Philippines

Year: 2009


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