Girls in Fighting Forces and Groups: Their Recruitment, Participation, Demobilization, and Reintegration

Authored by: Dyan E. Mazurana, Susan A. McKay, Khristopher C. Carlson, et al.

Categories: Statebuilding
Sub-Categories: Disarmament Demobilization and Reintegration (DDR), National Security Forces and Armed Groups, Post-Conflict Reconstruction
Region: No Region
Year: 2002
Citation: Mazurana, Dyan E., Susan A. McKay, Khristopher C. Carlson, and Janel C. Kasper. "Girls in Fighting Force and Groups: Their Recruitment, Participation, Demobilization, and Reintegration." Peace and Conflict: Journal of Peace Psychology 8, no. 2 (2002): 97–123.

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The question “Where are the girls?” is seldom raised in discussions about children or adolescents who are members of fighting forces and groups. This is due in large part to the near exclusive focus on boy soldiers. Consequently, scant attention has been given to girls’ active involvement and distinct experiences in these forces and groups, whether as combatants or noncombatants. The purpose of this article is to explicate the presence and experiences of girls in fighting forces and groups and some of the challenges they face after they leave these forces and groups and attempt to resume their lives within their communities. We use descriptive data gathered from a wide variety of organizational and scholarly reports to identify girls’ involvement and roles in these forces and groups, detail how they are recruited and demobilized, and examine common physical and psychosocial effects of their participation. We contend that during and after armed conflicts, gender-specific physical and psychological impacts must be understood so that both boys and girls receive effective help. Because little is presently known about girls’ distinct experiences, programs and policies that might assist them to heal and recover more rapidly from physical and psychosocial trauma are seldom developed. By being knowledgeable about and sensitive to girls’ distinct experiences and needs, psychologists can help assure that girls, along with boys, receive more effective psychosocial assistance.