Women in Conflict

Arnett, Robin

This article focuses on female combatants serving in armed conflicts in Africa, South America, and Asia, profiling their time engaged with these forces as well as the realities they face upon their return to civilian life. Women play a significant role in these conflicts, sometimes constituting up to 30% of the armed forces, although they are often overlooked. When they are acknowledged, women are frequently regarded as helpless victims rather than active participants. Through statistics and country profiles, the groundwork is laid to develop a fuller picture of female participation in conflict in terms of their numbers, the ways in which they become involved, and the various roles that they play. Conditions women commonly face upon returning from war are explored, including stigma, psychological and physical health issues, and a lack of options to provide for their own livelihoods. The article specifically notes the deficiencies of disarmament, demobilization, and reintegration (DDR) programs in serving female populations. The article concludes with analysis and recommendations for improvements to DDR programming, specifically as it relates to serving women and girls, and noting the precedent set by international human rights law for gender mainstreaming in DDR.


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Columbia Social Work Review

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Social Work
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September 8, 2015