'Once We Were Warrior Too':Exclusions of Women from Demobilisation Programmes in Sierra Leone

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Student thesis: Master's ThesisMaster of Economic and Social Studies

Original languageEnglish
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    Award date2006
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    Abstract

    Post-conflict society, characterised by positive peace requires a thoroughly demobilised mindset amongst not only former-combatants, but also those mobilised more broadly within conflict. Until now demobilisation programmes have taken a traditional understanding of conflict, focusing on armaments, rather than psychologies, ideologies and cultures. This has led to an unnatural distinction being made between combatants and civilians, where such division is increasingly less evident in fighting. It has also caused demobilisation to be continually paired with disarmament, once again emphasising the military element of conflict. This ignores the broader sense in which people are mobilised in conflicts, as ancillary support and 'bush wives'.

    This paper considers the disarmament, demobilisation and reintegration (DDR) programme in Sierra Leone and examines how its standards for registration provide some indication as to what it is to be considered 'mobilised' during conflict. The overly militaristic approach to DDR taken ignores alternative, non-combative roles at the broader level of involvement in conflict that, if left unchecked, risk disrupting the already fragile post-conflict environment. A case study of women in the Sierra Leonean conflict is used to demonstrate how this social group, in both combative and non-combative capacities, is excluded from DDR programmes. This exclusion results in an unfinished process of uprooting the remnants of a war mindset that resides within the psychological and material state of those left mobilised, and potentially risks undermining the carefully crafted post-conflict peace