Dissertation Abstracts

Gender, Age and Armed Violence: Complexity of Identity Among Returning Formerly Displaced Youth in Uganda

Author: Victoria F Namuggala, vickatende@gmail.com
Department: Women and Gender Studies
University: Arizona State University, United States
Supervisor: Karen Leong
Year of completion: 2016
Language of dissertation: English

Keywords: Armed Conflict , Gender , Youth Bulge , Africa
Areas of Research: Migration , Youth , Theory


Armed violence is a contemporary global challenge especially in the developing world. It impacts immigration policies locally and internationally. Uganda experienced a twenty-four year -long civil armed conflict, which the president of Uganda declared ended in 2008. Following government instruction, displaced persons have been returning home since then. Despite this official closure, in the course of resettlement, youth specific needs and concerns have been ignored. Female youth have been the most affected due to the interlocking nature of their undervalued gender, age, and marital and reproductive statuses. Despite the complexity of female youth’s social location, research and frameworks about armed violence have focused on men as the perpetuators, marginalizing the impact armed conflict has on young women. Using the case of northern Uganda, this dissertation draws on feminist and indigenous epistemologies to examine the experiences of formerly displaced female youth. First, I deconstruct the western dominant construction of the stages of human growth and development including childhood, youth and adulthood. In this research, I prioritize local perspectives on human development; emphasizing the ambiguity of the concept youth, highlighting its age and gendered limited applicability to northern Uganda. I also examine the local understanding of armed conflict centering its forms and causes. Further, I explore the challenges female youth face, and the strategies they adopt to cope in situations of distress. I argue that studying formerly displaced female youth from their standpoint is critical since female youth have been marginalized in previous research and programs with gender-neutral perspectives. They thus provide a new perspective to armed violence given their multi dimensional standpoint. Female youth have different needs and concerns, which may not feature in mainstream programming largely informed by traditional male dominated systems and structures. Young women’s experiences thus deserve to be acknowledged if female youth are to benefit from the post-conflict reconstruction phase. To fulfill this objective, I used qualitative methods of data collection and analysis.

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