Whereas sex refers to biological differences between men and women, gender is a relational term that refers to the socially constructed norms around roles, behaviours and attributes associated with being male and female and the relationships between women, men, girls and boys, as well as within same-sex groups.

Women and girls take part in conflict in three main types and roles, including i) female combatants; ii) female supporters and women associated with armed forces and groups (WAAFG); and iii) female dependents. All three groups of women have often been excluded from DDR processes because of, amongst others, stigma, security concerns, in adequate eligibility criteria or women’s poor access to communication sources used to announce the DDR programme. Ensuring women’s access to DDR programmes, addressing their specific needs and protecting them from violence is critical to ensure successful reintegration. It is also important to recognize that protection of vulnerable groups is not only about prevention but often constitutes the primary condition for women’s participation in post-conflict decision-making bodies. UN entities now recognize that protecting women from violence should include methods such as working with men and boys and by taking a gendered perspective to men’s experiences in the DDR process.