CHAPTER 14 Social Reality War and Peace: Expectation and Realities of Female Ex-Combatants

CHAPTER 14 Social Reality War and Peace: Expectation and Realities of Female Ex-Combatants

Social reality War and Peace: Expectation and Realities of Female Ex-combatants in Nepal

Chiranjibi Bhandari

The intended study allowed us to understand role of women in conflict creation or resolution and help deeper understanding of return into more conventional role. The research focused on challenges they face in communities after returning to families and seek to understand strength, weakness and opportunities and threats from participants’ life experience. The understanding of social reality underpins success of the overall peace process. The literature in conflict and peace building does not adequately address the women combatants’ perspectives on social integration.

The research followed dialogue and ethnographic field study approach and the data was gathered by in-depth interviews. The total of sixty interviews were taken following standard method of participant’s interview process. Participants were randomly chosen including foot soldiers, mid-level battlefield commanders, access permitting and high-level commanders.

The Comprehensive Peace Accord of November 2006 marked the end of decade-long conflict and led to political transition in Nepal. The agreement succeeded in receiving approval of effective administering of the state army and seizing of weapons from state insurgents. The subsequent rehabilitation strategies are building new constitution, transitional justice, reconstruction, and reconciliation. The integration of insurgents in to civilian life, blending into the national army (total: 1422 insurgents) and voluntary retirements (total: 15,624 insurgents) remained thorny issues socio-politically and technically challenging.

The central role of women as insurgents in the People’s Liberation Army is characteristically different to the conventional role women played in Nepali society including deployment of women under age. The United Nations Political Mission in Nepal (UNMIN) established by the United Nations Council mandated to monitor the ceasefire initially recorded approximately four thousand women combatants. The verification of the data later proved twenty percent (3350) of all combatants were women of all ages engaged in combat, guerilla units other tactical activities.

Reintegration of female ex-combatants is arguably one of the most challenging issues facing any post-conflict society. It has only been four years since the process of reintegration began and it would be premature to term it complete. The evidence suggests female ex-combatants who received financial packages have used it to positively impact their life. In terms of social and political reintegration, despite the successful closure of the cantonments, there is continued hesitance of social acceptance of ex-combatants. Nepal’s experience can potentially help develop and enhance the current global discourse on reintegration of former female ex-combatants.