"If I could go to school..."

Girl soldiers in Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) experience severe hardships – both in the ranks of armed groups and after returning home. Programmes that support the release, recovery and reintegration of girl soldiers have so far been woefully inadequate. Only a small percentage of girls leave armed groups through formal demobilisation processes, and an even smaller number receive any assistance.

Following extensive consultations with DRC-based child protection partners in 2012-2015, Child Soldiers International travelled to eastern DRC in early 2016. We conducted interviews with 150 former girl soldiers, and spoke to community and child protection representatives. Our findings will form a set of best practice principles to improve assistance to former child soldiers, with a particular focus on the specific needs of girls.

The girls we talked to emphasised the importance of education in their lives. Using their words, this report illustrates the protective role schooling can play in the lives of girls affected by armed conflict, and the potential of education to support the social acceptance and reintegration of former girl soldiers into the community.

Download the report here.