Rebuilding life after conflict; A case study of female ex-combatant reintegration in South Sudan
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This thesis assesses the reintegration needs of female ex-combatants in South Sudan. Although research has been conducted on the various roles women played in armed groups, the role they should entail in negotiation processes, or how female ex-combatants evaluate the implemented DDR programme, no research has been conducted on the specific reintegration needs female ex-combatants express that influence a successful reintegration process. This thesis provides insights into these perceived reintegration needs and furthermore provides a critical reflection on DDR programming in general and the needs assessment carried out prior to the DDR implementation phase in South Sudan. Based on the theoretical framework of human needs satisfaction, this thesis aims to develop a further understanding of the perceived economic, social and political reintegration needs and whether there is a hierarchy present for these needs. The answers of 1692 female ex-combatants, 3730 male ex-combatants and 6508 community members from South Sudan that completed a survey between August and December 2020 were analysed. The results show that female ex-combatants prioritise their economic and social human needs, which indicates that a hierarchy of needs is present in accordance with the theoretical framework. This holds implications for their reintegration, as their economic and social needs should be prioritised for a successful reintegration. This thesis furthermore presents a critical reflection of DDR programming, that used to neglect the gender aspect of reintegration. A discrepancy in policy and practice was found in South Sudan, as well as in other case studies where reintegration programmes do not reflect the actual needs of the ex-combatants. This thesis aims to provide new insights by assessing a needs assessment carried out to inform the upcoming DDR programme in South Sudan as this subject enjoys limited coverage in the academic debate. A critical reflection shows that although gender sensitivity is strived for, the tools used for the needs assessment reflect limited gender sensitivity. The quantitative nature of the tools is furthermore discussed and this thesis argues that additional qualitative research tools could provide additional in depth knowledge often required to analyse complicated societal processes.