Women in crisis: how war affects their lives

Women in crisis: how war affects their lives

Women do not usually create war, but they suffer from it. For them, the dangers of armed conflicts go far beyond the violence of battle, as they face the greatest health and social inequities in the world.

In the last two decades, the use of violence against women and girls during conflict has become more visible. Even aside from increased sexual violence, conflict prolongs many inequalities that can last well after a war ends.

Even though the struggles of women cannot be fully briefed in only few words, particular issues facing women today can be found all over the world and are listed below.

Maternal mortality

In poorer nations, there is a common saying: “A woman who is pregnant has one foot in the grave.” Even during times of peace, a woman’s risk of dying from pregnancy worsens in war zone areas.

For example, the United Nations Assistance Mission for Iraq, UNAMI, stated that 80 percent of maternal mortality is caused by inadequate access to health care during a woman’s pregnancy, childbirth and postpartum period.

Sexual violence

Women and girls are not just killed; they are raped, sexually attacked, mutilated and humiliated. Amnesty International’s Irene Kahn states, “Custom, culture and religion have built an image of women as bearing the “honor” of their communities.

Disparaging a woman's sexuality and destroying her physical integrity have become a means by which to terrorize, demean and 'defeat' entire communities, as well as to punish, intimidate and humiliate women."

Long after fighting ends, women who escaped conflict find themselves forced to exchange sex for the survival of themselves and their children.

Human rights compromised

War brings additional burdens on women, including having to bear new responsibilities. As the new heads of household, they must also take care of a large number of children, elderly and orphans, even though their rights to work, education and movement have been almost entirely compromised.

But still… women can affect the war process

Women are crucial activists in peace processes and their participation in such efforts is necessary to uphold the rights of civilians and ensure the sustainability of peace agreements.

A sustainable peace within conflicted countries cannot be achieved without the active participation of women and the incorporation of their perspectives at all levels of decision-making, according to UN Women.

Cover credit: Bravebosom.com

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