Women as Post-War Community Leaders

Peer-to-Peer Learning in Aceh and Mindanao

This pilot project seeks to contribute to the empowerment of women (formerly) associated with non-state armed groups as post-war local community leaders.

By bringing together women from Aceh (Indonesia) and Mindanao (Philippines) who were/are members of the former Free Aceh Movement (GAM) and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), this project addresses the crucial gap in knowledge and practice on support options for former female combatants transforming into local political, social and economic leaders.

It does so by collecting empirical evidence on the factors contributing to women’s effective inclusion and empowerment in the wake of peace accords; facilitating peer-learning and exchange between former female combatants in Aceh and female revolutionaries in Mindanao; and jointly providing relevant policy advice to peacebuilding agencies currently operating in Mindanao.


January - May 2016

While female combatants often experience personal and collective empowerment through their participation in resistance/liberation movements, in the wake of peace agreement they tend to become sidelined in their democratic leadership aspirations, or worse, stigmatised due to their gender and their former participation in armed/opposition 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 recent UN Global Study on the 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.


This pilot 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.

We will support their direct transfer of experience (1) with female members of the MILF in Mindanao, and (2) towards local and international organisations supporting the Mindanao peacebuilding process, on the subject-matter of these women’s agency, resources, opportunities, methods and support needs for gaining influence and power in local state-building and governance.

Aim and Outcomes

The objectives of the project are threefold. 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 from Aceh who underwent successful transitions, and women active in the Moro liberation movement in Mindanao who are currently undergoing post-war demobilisation. Third, we will offer these women the opportunity to share some recommendations to peacebuilding/development assistance staff, during a policy advice seminar and through a written report that will be disseminated to relevant agencies and organisations.


The project activities will be carried out in Aceh (Indonesia) and Mindanao (Philippines).

This project is carried out in collaboration with Ms Shadia Marhaban, senior consultant from Aceh (Indonesia), and funded by the Robert Bosch Stiftung.

A peer-advice workshop and a policy advice seminar will be held in Mindanao in April 2016.

  • 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 (forthcoming 2016)
  • 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 >