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The Reintegration of Young Mothers in Northern Uganda: Considering Post-War Spaces for Change


The Reintegration of Young Mothers in Northern Uganda: Considering Post-War Spaces for Change

Savard, Michelle ORCID: https://orcid.org/0000-0002-2100-6650 (2019) The Reintegration of Young Mothers in Northern Uganda: Considering Post-War Spaces for Change. PhD thesis, Concordia University.

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Over 12,000 girls and women were abducted during Uganda’s civil war (1986-2007), and many were forced to be wives. When these young women returned home, they were marginalized by their communities for their participation in the war and having had children out of wedlock.

Reintegration programs were created as a means to improve relationships with the community, help youth process the trauma from the war, and develop the skills necessary for a livelihood. Research demonstrates that these programs tend to use deficit-based approaches, essentialize young women as “victims,” and pathologize their experiences. Furthermore, the programs do not involve the young women in decisions that concern them. There is a need to create reintegration programs grounded in a critical understanding of marginalization and the barriers these women face at all levels of the socio-ecology.

This project examines three different approaches to the post-war reintegration of war-affected and formerly abducted young mothers in Northern Uganda, as well as the social, political, and cultural barriers to reintegration. Hall’s (1994/1999/2004) theory of marginalization and Cornwall and Coelho’s (2007) notion of social spaces were used in order to frame this comparison. Each approach or space was assessed on how well it enhanced three factors: competent functioning, social inclusion, and financial stability. Using ethnographic methods, the first approach I investigated consisted was “formal or closed spaces,” namely two reintegration programs headed by NGOs. The second approach was a “created space” developed by 20 young mothers, community members, elders, and myself. Using participatory action research, we collectively created a self-directed, peer-support model of reintegration. The third space was “claimed” by a local group of women who supported each other, saved together, and borrowed money from their group to expand their businesses. This study revealed the need for programs to take a socio-ecological approach to reintegration and to address the structural barriers such as patriarchal values that keep women in poverty. Based on findings concerning the interconnectedness of the three success factors, the benefits of using participatory processes and considering the nature of social spaces, recommendations and a new model for reintegration are put forward.

Divisions:Concordia University > Faculty of Arts and Science > Education
Item Type:Thesis (PhD)
Authors:Savard, Michelle
Institution:Concordia University
Degree Name:Ph. D.
Program:Educational Studies
Date:January 2019
Thesis Supervisor(s):Naseem, M. Ayaz
Keywords:participatory action research, ethnography, feminism, formerly abducted, Uganda, marginalization of youth, social spaces, young mothers, critical pedagogy
ID Code:985201
Deposited By: Dr. Michelle SAVARD
Deposited On:07 Jun 2019 16:45
Last Modified:09 Feb 2021 22:38


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