Impact of Armed Conflict on Women

Countless women and girls all over the world suffer from the trauma of war – often as widows or orphans, perhaps displaced from their homes, sometimes detained. Many times, they are separated from loved ones and become victims of violence and intimidation. For the most part they are civilians caught in the crossfire. They show astonishing resourcefulness and resilience in coping with the disintegration of their families, the loss of their homes and belongings, and the destruction of their lives.

The vulnerability of women often derives from the fact that armed conflicts today have changed in such a way that civilians are increasingly caught in the fighting, and that women bear the brunt of the burden of ensuring the day-to-day survival of their families.

Women are especially susceptible to poverty, exclusion, and the sufferings caused by armed conflict when they are already subject to discrimination in times of peace.

In some conflicts, when women, as the bearers of future generations, are considered to be the depositories of cultural and ethnic identity, they may be vulnerable to attacks or threats from within the community if they do not conform to their assigned role.

They may also be targeted by the enemy with a view to change or destroy this role. The use of sexual violence as a method of warfare, and the requirement that women bear more children to replace sons that have died, make women especially vulnerable.