George Mason University
George Mason University Mason
George Mason University

Fighting Young: Liberia and Sierra Leone

by Patricia Maulden

Publication Details MORE LESS

  • Published Date: 2011
  • Publisher: The Continuum International Publishing Group Ltd
  • ISBN: 9781441144935


The gendered domains of war present fundamental challenges to female social navigation skills. The ways in which girls align themselves with fighting factions can literally mean life or death. The conflicts in Sierra Leone and Liberia demonstrate the nuanced roles of girls during intrastate war. Using their “situational” agency, girls shift between the various support roles of temporary wife, girlfriend, cook, looter, porter, sex slave, and fighter. As girls are not considered dangerous, they are often invisible, requiring them to rely on themselves and their own agency for survival.

This collection of essays explores the role of women as they participate in both conflict and peacemaking.

The essays, contributed by scholars and practitioners from around the world, do not look at women as victims or perpetrators, but instead examine their behavior in conflict zones and their involvement in conflict – how it affects them, how they are active participants, and the initiatives they take in intervention, conflict resolution, and peace building. The book thus demonstrates remarkable cases of agency, where women were the authors of change. This may happen in a violent way, as with female suicide bombers or the Black Widows of Chechnya, or women may actively help to stop conflict or participate in peacebuilding activities, as they did in Rwanda or Liberia.

The thematically organized chapters cover issues of women waging war, women intervening in war, women waging peace, and women sustaining peace, all substantiated with case studies and first hand accounts. Women Waging War and Peace will be an essential resource to anyone researching conflict processes and women’s agency.


"Tremendoulsy rich in cross-national case studies, Women Waging War and Peace critically examines the complex agency of girls and women in the contexts of child soldiers, suicide bombers, front-line soldiers, peace negotiators, and peacebuilders. By combining primary research, theoretical lenses from various academic disciplines, and women's lived experiences in all their trauma, healing, and triumph, Women Waging Peace and War reinforces the critical need for international organizations, non-governmental organizations, and policy leaders to empower women. The Institute for Conflict Analysis & Resolution at George Mason University has provided a tremendous contribution to the fields of conflict analysis, peace studies, and women's studies." -Paige Eager, Associate Professor, Hood College.

"Through this edited volume the authors illustrate to practitioners and scholars in Peacebuilding field how can we all break away from the stereotypes that women's only role in war is a victim and women are more prone to being peace makers than men. To deconstruct the monolithic role of women in peace and war, the volume offers solid empirical evidences based on 16 different cases from around the world in which powerful and inspiring stories of Peacebuilding and war are narrated and analyzed. Concluding with a confirmed hypothesis that "Women play a myriad of roles in face of war and peace," the authors paved the way for future researchers and practitioners in the field of Peacebuilding to expand their horizon in depicting gender roles in wartime and peace in more complex and nuanced ways. 

The volume is a must read for practitioners and scholars who struggle to understand the multi dimensional involvement of women in war and peace. In the context of Peacebuilding, the authors pioneered in linking women led social movements and its potential in introducing change into war and post war realities. "Women do social movement differently," a conclusion that should have major effects on the scholars and practitioners in Peacebuilding, particularly if we acknowledge the hundreds of examples explored in this volume and utilize them in developing a more "gendered" post conflict programming and in education, too." - Mohammed Abu-Nimer, Ph.D., International Peace And Conflict Resolution School of International Service American University