What The Girls Say: Practical Guide

In Democratic Republic of Congo, the situation of returning child soldiers remain acutely difficult. Former girl soldiers face particular challenges: they are almost inevitably subjected to sexual violence or slavery, and are particularly under-represented in release and reintegration programmes.

In October 2016, Child Soldiers International hosted a workshop in Goma, DR Congo to discuss best practice measures to support the recovery and reintegration of former girl soldiers.

We brought together child protection actors, UN agencies and government officials to discuss the findings of our research on the challenges faced by former girl soldiers in DR Congo .

The workshop participants heard the challenges faced by the girls, told in their own words, and listened to the girls' own recommendations on the support they now need.  As a group, we discussed solutions and developed interventions which would meet the girls’ needs and facilitate their recovery, while respecting their rights.

This guide is the outcome of that process. The guide presents a collection of practical ideas and experiences from the participants in the Goma workshop. It will serve as a 'toolkit' to help child protection actors respond to the needs of girls formerly associated with armed groups in eastern DRC, and to overcome the many obstacles to their release and reintegration.

Many of the interventions proposed in this guide are not new and have already been used by some NGOs. However, they are not necessarily known or systematically used by all child protection actors.

The child protection practitioners we interviewed emphasized that funding for child soldier reintegration programmes has either ended, or is now so restricted that they can only reach a very small number of children. For this reason, the majority of the interventions featured in the guide are inexpensive and can be delivered by community members, using community resources.

Download the guide here.