Reconstructing Gender Identity for Child Combatants in Post-Conflict African Societies

Monday, January 3, 2011
Laura Woodbury

Disarmament, Demobilization, and Reintegration (DDR) programming has become a popular tool for returning child combatants to post-conflict societies. These programs have not traditionally been sensitive to gender issues, and often apply a “one-size-fits all” philosophy of programming to all combatants. This has resulted in programming that largely excludes females. Due to a lack of allowances for the special circumstances of many females, DDR programming has been ineffective at including and addressing female combatants. Consequently, DDR programs have focused on male populations by default. Despite this tendency, there have been very few concerted efforts or considerations taken to address male populations in a gender-specific manner or for the particular needs they may require when reintegrating into post-conflict society. Therefore the “one-size-fits-all” methodology fails both genders and creates homogenized programming that falls short through a failure to address any of former combatants' gender-specific needs. In this paper I will discuss the construction of masculinity within the context of warfare and how it is associated with violence within combat. I will then argue that effective DDR programming should work to reconstruct masculine identities appropriate for post-conflict societies, in order to promote stability, and ultimately a flourishing community.

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Post-Conflict Gender Identity Reconstruction for Child Combatants, Woodbury, Jan 3 2011