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University of Cambridge Centre for Gender Studies


Emmah Khisa Senge WabukeGates Cambridge International Scholarship

Towards A Gendered Disarmament, Disengagement and Reintegration (DDR) Program in Countering Violent Extremism: The Somalia Conflict and Female Militancy in Al-Shabaab

Supervisor: Dr Holly Porter (University of Cambridge Centre for Gender Studies) 



Earlier generations of DDR Programming came into effect after completion of the armed conflict. However, ‘new wars’ such as violent extremism necessitates a DDR Program capable of operating in contexts of continuing threats to peace and security. While international stakeholders such as the UN and the AU are in the process of fine-tuning DDR-CVE Programs, my research project argues that it is important to include gender into these deliberations.

To do so, stakeholders must take note of inherent challenges facing a gendered DDR-CVE. These challenges predominantly stem from the constructions of gender in war. Gender inequalities in new wars emerge from varied factors, such as ‘predominance of male participation, differential forms of violence against men and women’ and falsehood of women as natural peacemakers, all of which give credence to the ‘mother/whore/monster’ narratives around female militants in terrorist groups. In proposing gender inclusion in DDR-CVE, therefore, we must also explore the origin and the impact of these narratives before proposing credible solutions on how to overcome the said narratives.

This thesis is contextualised within East Africa. While the Somalia conflict has intermittently received global responses, by and large, Al Shabaab remains a regional threat in terms of location of its attacks (Somalia, Kenya and Uganda), its composition (mostly from Somalia Kenya and Mozambique) and its goals (institution of Sharia Law in Somalia and neighbouring countries). Therefore, this thesis argues that it is important to measure the effectiveness of any proposed solution within the region. Specifically, the gendered construction of war should be analysed against a backdrop of African Feminism in an attempt to isolate the tenets, if any, of an African theory of gender, militarisation and securitization in war.

Academic Background:

Bachelor of Laws (LL.B) at University of Nairobi, Kenya

Master of Laws (LL.M) at Harvard Law School, Cambridge, Massachusetts, USA

Postgraduate Diploma in Law, Kenya School of Law, Nairobi, Kenya


Wabuke E.S (forthcoming) ‘COVID-19, Access to Rights and Countering Violent Extremism Among Vulnerable Women: Reflections and Propositions from Kenya’ (Democratic Governance and Rights Unit, University of Cape Town ESCR Rights Book Project, December 2020)

Wabuke E.S., (et al), Judicial Review and Public Power in Kenya: Revisiting Judicial Response to Select Political Cases (Springer Publishers, 2017)

Wabuke E.S, ‘Mapping the Legal Contours of Presidential Electoral Law in Kenya: A Case Review of Raila Odinga v IEBC Presidential Election No. 1 of 2017’ in Muna Ndulo (ed) Handbook of African Law (Routledge/Taylor and Francis Publishers, forthcoming, December 2020)

Wabuke E.S, ‘Female Militancy in Terrorist Groups and the African Union Counter- Terrorism Response’ African Peace and Security Journal (2018)

Wabuke E.S, (et al), ‘The Fission and Fusion in International Use of Force’ 48 Case Western Journal of International Law (2015)

Wabuke E.S, ‘Towards a Better Approach in Protection of Religious Freedom: Introducing the Structural Interdict’ University of Nairobi Law Journal (2015)

Wabuke E.S, ‘Regional Organizations’ Application of R2P: The ECOWAS Military Intervention Into the Gambia’ (Lawfare Blog, May 22, 2019)

Wabuke E.S, ‘The Kenya–Somalia Maritime Dispute and Its Potential National Security Costs’ (Lawfare Blog, May 15, 2019)

Wabuke E.S, ‘Improving Electoral Cyber-security in Kenya’ (Lawfare Blog, September 1, 2017) at>

Wabuke E.S, ‘Mapping the Legal Contours for Internal Deployment of Military Forces in Kenya’ (Lawfare Blog, August 10, 2017) at

Wabuke E.S, ‘Not All Amnesty Deals Are Made the Same’ (Foreign Policy Magazine, October 6, 2017) at

Wabuke E.S, ‘The Making of a Feminist Political Constituency or How to Theorize a Bonobo Sisterhood Polity’ (UCT Centre of Law and Society) at