The Disproportionate Effects of War and Conflict on Women and Girls
“Often, a conflict’s gender dynamics reflect sexist social norms: Men are expected to fight; women are forced to flee.”
Across the globe, women and girls are particularly vulnerable in times of war. During conflict, existing inequalities are magnified, infrastructure and social relations are broken down, and human rights are at risk. Due to a combination of factors, women bear the brunt of the secondary and lasting effects of war and conflict. Women are affected in many ways, including food insecurity, displacement, heightened human trafficking, and disrupted access to reproductive and health care. What’s more, women have been historically left out of peace talks and conflict prevention despite data showing a substantially higher degree of success and longevity for peace agreements negotiated by women. Additionally, women are often raped by parties in conflict situations as systemic rape has historically been used as a tactic of war. Even though women remain the minority of combatants and perpetrators of war, they increasingly suffer the most harm. Many of these issues have been prevalent consequences of war for hundreds of years, but unfortunately are not substantially improving. Thus, while the current efforts of the United Nations and other international actors are important, more protections and mitigating measures are necessary in order to prevent the disproportionate effects of war and conflict from falling on women and children during future conflicts.
Part One of this Article details the impacts of food insecurity, displacement, heightened human trafficking, and disrupted access to reproductive and health care on women in the context of wartime. Part Two explores the historic exclusion of women from peace negotiations. Part Three discusses the ongoing crisis faced by women and girls in Ukraine. Finally, Part Four provides an overview of the United Nations’ resolutions, programs, and support.