Women in DDR

Women are included in the first group to go through the DDR process ‐ those with Special Needs. The Special Needs Group includes the elderly, disabled fighters and those with chronic illnesses which make them unfit for active service.

Once SPLA has selected women for demobilization, female fighters and Women Associated with Armed Forces are entitled to the same DDR benefits and provisions as men. These women have sacrificed their educational, family and career opportunities in precisely the same way as their male colleagues. They deserve all the support DDR can provide as they move back into civilian life. In fact, the first person to be formally demobilized in Southern Sudan, during the launch of DDR on 10th June 2009, was a woman.

In some cases, special provision is made for women going through the DDR process. Where they must stay overnight at a DDR site, separate accommodation is provided for them. Otherwise all stages are the same as for men.

The History of Women’s Involvement in Conflict in Southern Sudan
Throughout the 1983‐2005 Civil War in Sudan and during the Anyanya 1 struggle, women played important roles. The land under threat belonged to women as much as to men, and they shared the same determination to protect it from attack.

Female Fighters
In some cases women fought alongside their male comrades. There were famous female battalions, the ‘Katiba Banat’, who had their own specific battle songs. There were also women who were honoured for their purely military contribution, of whom the most celebrated is the Late Commander Ager Gum Akol, buried with great honour in Rumbek, who fought in both wars and is greatly respected within the SPLA Roll of Honour.

Female Supporters
Apart from the women combatants, the SPLA also depended on other women who performed important non‐military roles. They were: the porters, the cooks, the field nurses, and in some cases the informal intelligence officers‐the ‘eyes and ears’ of the army. Though they were not physical fighters, they often ran considerable risk from the enemy forces and in many cases gave their lives. In some cases these women remained in their communities but assisted when they could. In other cases, women were forced to take refuge with the forces as their communities were severely war‐affected. Women in this situation, who lived alongside the army, assisting and moving with the forces, are known as ‘Women Associated with Armed Forces’, or WAAF.