By: Julia Rachiele
Women’s role in society is significantly overlooked in many aspects of life, and up until recently this included DDR processes. DDR is a process that is to be integrated into society to be successful, specifically reintegration measures, to achieve this one can not undermine the power of women. Even if not playing an active role in combat, the capacity of women to influence conflict and post-conflict situations is an asset if utilized properly. Women facilitate the functioning of roles and social systems in society, and it is only appropriate that this also applies to the success of DDR initiatives.
It is well known that women hold together the social structure of society including family bonds, social interaction, and community values. This makes women an invaluable resource in upholding the goals of DDR. Having acknowledged these two main points, they must be taken into consideration. The need for DDR resources including psycho-social programs and economic programs specifically designed for women, and the ability to integrate women into overall DDR programming.
Non combatant female roles and female dependents during conflict experience comparable trauma to men, however the manifestations and therefore the ways of coping differ greatly. Female specific programs are a necessity in assisting women in overcoming the traumas of war even if they played passive roles. Women who play passive support roles such as cooking, cleaning, and organizational roles are just as involved in conflict as men. Similarly women and female child dependents of male combatants suffer hardships as well in living the life of being part of a combatant’s nuclear family. As a result female specific mental health and medical attention need to be made gender specific through the utilization of specially trained counselors and doctors.
Women’s role in DDR goes farther than purely providing services to women. DDR also includes integrating women in the DDR programs themselves, specifically, in community aspects. As women are the protectors of social circles and have the responsibility of upholding families, they are valuable in upholding the goals of DDR as well. Whether it is with women forming their own collectives in jumpstarting local economies, or being a fundamental stakeholder in protecting DDR successes, women are vital. This is because women are able to enforce rules of DDR programs through mitigating the power that men hold. They are able to structure society in such a way that women are able to stand in solidarity against what might be the desires of men to disrupt DDR successes. While also ensuring that children and dependents are unable to sustain mentalities that may bring about new conflicts.
To underestimate the roles women play in society is not advisable in DDR planning. Women are a vital and underacknowldged resource in post conflict society building. Integrating women in DDR programs is a way to safeguard society in continuing successful reintegration processes and prevent a fall back into conflict.