Women as Post-War Community Leaders

Building a Regional Peer-Advice Network

This project seeks to contribute to the empowerment of women (formerly) associated with non-state armed groups as post-war local political or socio-economic leaders. It brings together female members from non-state armed groups that have recently signed peace/ceasefire agreements with their respective governments and will soon undergo civilian reconversion processes in Mindanao (Philippines) and Myanmar, with former female combatants from three demobilised armed groups in Aceh (Indonesia), Mindanao and Nepal. Through peer-learning between network members, this project addresses the crucial gap in knowledge and practice on support options for former female combatants to support their effective social and political inclusion in post-war environments.


November 2017 - August  2018

Predecessor Projects

  • Women as Post-war Community Leaders more >
  • RLMs and Transitions to Politics more >

While female combatants often experience personal and collective empowerment through their participation in resistance/liberation movements, in the wake of peace accords they tend to become sidelined in their democratic leadership aspirations, or worse, stigmatised due to their gender and their former participation in armed activities. Whereas their male comrades often undergo successful transitions to democratic politics, female combatants miss the opportunity to transfer their acquired skills and competences into effective contributions to post-war development and peacebuilding efforts through local (let alone national) economic, social or political leadership. This is confirmed by the UN Global Study in Implementation of UN Security Council Resolution 1325 on women, peace and security processes, which noted that the exclusion of women from peace(building) processes undermined their sustainability, most especially at the community level.


Following up from a pilot project carried out in 2016 (Report >) this project will identify a selected group of former female combatants who have managed to overcome such challenges and experienced successful post-war transitions to community leadership in Aceh (Indonesia), Mindanao (Philippines), and Nepal. We will support their direct transfer of experience with their peers from three armed organisations that are currently undergoing peace processes in Myanmar and Mindanao.

Aim and Outcomes

The objectives of the project are twofold. First, we aim to systematise and document key lessons learnt on women’s processes of (re)conversion from conflict stakeholders to local peacebuilders through social, economic and political leadership. Second, we seek to foster a space for peer-to-peer learning and exchange between former female combatants who underwent successful transitions, and women who are currently undergoing (or envisaging) post-war demobilisation. In doing so, we will offer a space for building up a regional network for these women to gain the opportunity to sharing their experience on post-war civilian and democratic transformation.

This project is carried out in collaboration with Ms. Shadia Marhaban, senior consultant from Aceh (Indonesia), the Katahati Institute (Aceh, Indonesia) the Nepal Peacebuilding Initiative (NPI, Kathmandu; Nepal) and the Ex-PLA Women’s Academy (Kathmandu, Nepal).

The project is carried out with financial support from the GIZ and the Robert Bosch Stiftung.

February 2018: regional peer-advice workshop in Banda Aceh (Indonesia)

July 2018: regional peer-advice workshop in Kathmandu (Nepal)

  • Stina Lundström and Shadia Marhaban: Challenges and Opportunities for Female Combatants’ Post-War Community Leadership: Lessons Learnt from Aceh and Mindanao. 2016. Workshop Report. PDF >
  • Stina Lundström dan Shadia Marhaban: Tantangan dan Peluang bagi Perempuan Kombatan dalam Kepemimpinan di Komunitas Pascaperang: Pembelajaran dan Aceh dan Mindanao. 2016. Laporan Lokakarya. PDF >
  • Workshop report on a Roundtable with Mindanao stakeholders, Berlin, 11 November 2015: Securing the transformation: Post-agreement engagement with (former) non-state armed groups. PDF >
  • Véronique Dudouet and Katrin Planta: The Political Transformation of Armed and Banned Groups – Lessons Learned and Implications for International Support. Berghof Foundation/UNDP. PDF >
  • Véronique Dudouet, Katrin Planta and Hans J. Giessmann, From Combatants to Peacebuilders – A Case for Inclusive, Participatory and Holistic Security Transitions. Policy report. Berghof Foundation, February 2012. Hardcopy >
  • Shadia Marhaban “The Reintegration of Ex-Combatants in Post-War Aceh: Remaining Challenges to a Gender-Blind Planning and Implementation Process” in Véronique Dudouet, Katrin Planta and Hans J. Giessmann Post-War Security Transitions: Participatory Peacebuilding after Asymmetric Conflict, Routledge, 2012. Publishers >
  • Kiyoko Ogura “Challenges of Combatants’ Rehabilitation and Army Integration: Perspectives from Maoist Cantonments in Nepal” in in Véronique Dudouet, Katrin Planta and Hans J. Giessmann “Post-War Security Transitions: Participatory Peacebuilding after Asymmetric Conflict”, Routledge, 2012. Publishers >