Handbook on Gender and War
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Handbook on Gender and War

Edited by Simona Sharoni, Julia Welland, Linda Steiner and Jennifer Pedersen

Gender and war are in many ways inextricably linked, and this path-breaking Handbook systematically examines the major issues surrounding this relationship. Each of its four sections covers a distinct phase of war: gender and opposition to war; gender and the conduct of war; gender and the impact of war; and gender and the aftermath of war. Original contributions from an international group of leading experts make use of a range of historical and contemporary examples to interrogate the multi-faceted connection between gender and war.
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Chapter 26: Girl soldiers and the complexities of demobilization and reintegration

Myriam Denov, Alexandra Ricard-Guay and Amber Green


Scholarship on armed conflict as well as on child soldiers has long been gender blind. This chapter provides an overview of the state of knowledge on girl soldiers and their gendered experiences, with a particular emphasis on the post-conflict period. Addressed are the many issues faced by former girl soldiers in the post-conflict period, including their marginalization from programs of assistance, the social stigma and exclusion from family and community, their economic realities, and the psycho-social impacts of war and its outcomes on their sense of self and identity. To substantiate our analysis, we highlight the experiences of nine former girl soldiers from Colombia, and eight former girl soldiers from Sierra Leone. The chapter highlights the importance of a gendered approach to studying war and child soldiers, and looking beyond traditional dichotomies based on ‘victim versus perpetrator’ and ‘war versus peace’ as girls’ victimization is often intertwined with their agency. Importantly, girls’ options, roles and power relations, both during conflict and following demobilization, are embedded within broader gendered power structures and identities.

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