From Combat to Community: Women and Girls of Sierra Leone

Dyan Mazurana and Khristopher Carlson   •   January 2004


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Women and girls fought on both sides of Sierra Leone’s civil war. Although large numbers of women said they were gang-pressed into performing support functions for armed groups, many also fought or received weapons training. Sierra Leone’s national disarmament, demobilization, and reintegration (DDR) program frequently excluded women and girls. Many female ex-combatants, however, returned to violence in order to survive. Women have also often led the reintegration process, accepting ex-combatants back into society and spearheading the rehabilitation process for these former fighters. Drawing on qualitative field-based research and quantitative survey data, this publication assesses how consideration of gender issues can improve DDR processes and documents the contributions of women in official and civil society-based reintegration programs.

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