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Gender & Women's Studies|College of Arts & Sciences

Rockefeller Foundation Bellagio Conference Report on Girl Mothers, April 2005

Girl Mothers Formerly in Armed Groups and their Children In Northern Uganda and Sierra Leone/Liberia: Participatory Approaches to Reintegration

Project context 

Although international awareness about the presence of girls in armed groups is increasing, there is too little attention given to girls’ recruitment, the diverse roles girls play within armed groups, and the aftermath. Within armed groups, girls’ experiences are more severe than those of boys because of sexism and misogyny which is intensified by militarism and manifested in extreme violence, especially sexual violence, perpetrated by boys and men against girls and women. In Sierra Leone, Northern Uganda, and Liberia, among other countries in sub-Saharan Africa and throughout the world, few abducted girl mothers return to communities from armed groups without experiencing repeated victimization by sexual violence and/or torture. In returning to communities, they lack basic means of survival such as life skills and social networks. These girls suffer from multiple impacts of gender-based violence which are health related (for example, genital injuries, sexually-transmitted diseases, and pelvic inflammatory disease) as well as psychosocial and spiritual effects. Their children also suffer severe health effects. In addition, girl mothers have few opportunities to secure economic livelihoods (especially in work that is atypical for females), access education and/or skills training, and obtain primary health care. 

Within this context, the overall goal of this project is to improve the reintegration and well-being of girl mothers that involves girls themselves as key actors in changing their situations and build broad community support for this process. The project is currently underway at 22 sites with 11 NGO partners in three African countries. 

Since the project’s inception, three international conferences have been held. In April 2005, Malia Robinson and Susan McKay co-directed a conference on girl mothers that was held at the Rockefeller Foundation Bellagio Center in Bellagio, Italy. The conference provided an opportunity for those directly involved with the demobilization and community reintegration of girl mothers in African conflict situations to explore the existing research, share their practical experiences, and develop research, policy, and program recommendations. In particular, the conference identified that the action research base for identifying best practices in working with girl mothers and their children is presently lacking.

Bellagio Conference Report - pdf format
Conference on Girl Mothers Bellagio, Italy, April 2005 
Funded by the Rockefeller Foundation


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