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NGOs and Women's Capabilities in Post-War Settings: The Case of Sierra Leone

Fredline A. O. MCormack-Hale


Following a situation of conflict, international aid agencies are among the first to move in to help countries rebuild and transition into sustained peace and democracy. Among the priorities for rebuilding has been programs targeted toward women, as convention states that women are often the most affected by civil war. In response to growing recognition of the importance of including gender components in development activities, most NGOs now have specific gender mandates as well as programs where women are the central beneficiaries. This paper analyzes the role of select NGOs in Sierra Leone such as International Rescue Committee (IRC) and American Refugee Council (ARC) to see whether changing discourse is reflected in practice. Findings reveal that despite specific mandates to address women’s needs, women-focused projects are limited in scope, with an emphasis on micro-credit and skills training projects with some counseling components. Although implemented projects appear to reflect women’s self-identified needs, the study concludes that development organizations should incorporate programs that address both practical as well as strategic interests and address the wider underlying structural inequalities that present barriers to women’s equality.


NGOs; Gender; Post-conflict; Sierra Leone

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JENdA: A Journal of Culture and African Women Studies. ISSN: 1530-5686 (online).
Editors: Nkiru Nzegwu; Book Editor: Mary Dillard.

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