By Elisa Tarnaala
Despite their involvement in strategic, material and logistical support and combat, women’s roles as “soldiers” and “victims” are narrowly defined by post-conflict programmes. Most disarmament, demobilisation and reintegration (DDR) programmes are limited in the ways in which issues specific to female combatants are addressed. Gender-sensitive DDR programming must be linked into the entire peace process, from the peace negotiations through peacekeeping and subsequent peacebuilding activities. This process should include issues such as identifying women and setting the appropriate criteria for their entering DDR processes; understanding identity issues and obstacles facing women’s post-conflict political participation; targeting women as larger units with their children and partners rather than merely as individuals; addressing female health and psychosocial needs; and sensitisation to the particular issues around the gender dimensions of violence and community acceptance. This report highlights lessons learned from gender and DDR processes and notes that with regard to territorial implementation, national DDR commissions should be encouraged to work closely with government entities in charge of gender and women’s affairs, and – especially where governments are responsible for all or part of the DDR process – with women’s peacebuilding networks that can serve as bridges in the transition to civilian life, and facilitate social, political and economic reintegration.