Liberia experienced conflict between 1989 and 1997 and again between 1999 and 2003. It is estimated that women made up over 30% of the fighting force, playing roles as commanders, spies, cooks and porters.
Women took up arms for many reasons, such as avenging death and to protect themselves and their relatives.
The consequences of the violence and abuses committed against women during the conflict are devastating. Many continue to suffer physical and mental effects from their experiences, and often do not have access to adequate medical care. Often widowed or abandoned, a number of women have found themselves having to shoulder considerable burdens with little support, few skills, and no job or education.
Following the conflict, a disarmament, demobilization, rehabilitation and reintegration process began. The process aimed to ensure women’s participation and address their special needs. In reality, the programme failed meet the needs of a large number of women and girls. Thousands of women and girls didn’t participate in the process for reasons such as misinformation about the process, and manipulation by commanders.
Women and girls continue to be subject to human rights abuses and are at great risk of rape and other forms of sexual violence, such as exploitation and abuse in their schools, homes and communities.