The inclusion of girls depends on women : A study of the inclusion of girls associated with armed forces and armed groups in DDR programs by women mediators in Colombia, the DRC and Somalia

University essay from Uppsala universitet/Teologiska institutionen

Abstract: This thesis analyzes the relation between women mediators in peace negotiations and the inclusion of female child soldiers in disarm, demobilize and reintegrate (DDR) processes. Research shows that despite the adoption of UNSCR 1325 and the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women, there is low participation of women in peace processes. Children, especially girls (Girls Associated with Armed Forces and Armed Groups (GAAFAG), are often excluded from DDR programs due to not being seen as soldiers. This is not only an obstacle for lasting peace but it is also of importance to include them in the process as they have a human right to rehabilitation and reintegration after an armed conflict under Article 39 of the Convention on the Rights of the Child. Few studies have analyzed the relationship between women in peace negotiations and the inclusion of girls in the DDR process. The purpose of this thesis is therefore to study the effect women mediators can have on the inclusion or exclusion of children, specifically girls, in DDR programs after an armed conflict. The theory is that women involved in the peace process will broaden the issues of negotiations, bring those issues onto the official implementation agenda and ensure that specific issues are written into the agreement. This thesis suggests that because women have different experiences and priorities, women’s and children’s issues, such as including girls in the DDR process, will more likely be brought onto the implementation if women are involved. By taking the research question, what difference can women mediators make when it comes to the inclusion of GAAFAG in DDR programs? as a point of departure, the study analyses three cases: Colombia, the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), and Somalia. Through the Structured Focused Comparison research design, the study asks questions to each case regarding important factors based on the theory; the resources, the mediators, local participation, and formal regulation. The study finds that the DDR process in Colombia both had more women involved and included more children, and girls, in the DDR process. Even though it cannot be fully verified, the results suggest that women involved in peace negotiations can lead to greater inclusion of GAAFAG in DDR processes. While not overlooking the importance of factors such as cultural and historical roots as well as international involvement, as these can affect the outcome as well.

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