Essay on Challenges Faced By Women In Armed Conflict And Implication On Policy

Several parts of the world have continued to experience armed conflicts. Though armed conflict affects the whole society, its effect on women is complex. Women and girls make up a huge section of the reported 85% civilian victims of present day conflicts. Since time in memorial, women and girls have often been targeted in wartime for violence, especially sexual violence, forced prostitution and forced marriage among others (Zarkov, 2010). Moreover, the nature of warfare itself has dramatically changed due to the development of increasingly sophisticated weapons technology. As a result of the risks the women and girls are exposed to, there need to be development of policies and programs to protect women during armed conflicts. This paper will focus on challenges faced by women and girls during armed conflicts and what policies and programs need to be developed to protect women during armed conflicts.

Challenges faced by women and girls during armed conflict

Forced pregnancy

Forced pregnancy has been described as the unlawful confinement of a woman/girls to forcibly make them pregnant. A case in point, during the wars in former Yugoslavia girls and women got confined, raped and held captive until the chances of abortion ceased to be viable option for the victim. 28 Girls got abducted by rebel forces in Northern Uganda and who were subjected to forced pregnancy, and those who attempted to prevent pregnancy, were either beaten or killed (Wiki gender, 2011).

Violence against Women

In conflict-ridden places and in post-conflict communities, violence against women and girls has wider social ramifications. Several studies have documented that, during wars, violence against women is usually applied on a huge scale. Women are systematically raped, intimidated, sexually abused and forced into unwanted pregnancies (Wiki gender, 2011). The goal behind these brutal actions is: to degrade, humiliate, and shame the other national group in general; to impinge on the health and wellbeing of women; to undermine women‘s capacity to sustain their families and societies. Many of the sexually abused women/girls suffer emotional breakdowns, more so those from rural regions where moral codes are strict. Their husbands, families and societies usually reject them.

Sexual slavery

Sexual slavery surrounds most, if not all, types of enforced prostitution. Sexual slavery is used as an adjective to define a type of slavery, not to denote a different crime. Girls are usually abducted for sexual and other motives by armed groups and forces.

Psychological Attack

Sexual violence entail both physical and psychological attacks aimed at a person’s sexual traits like forcing a person to strip naked in public, genital mutilation. A case in point, during the genocide in Rwanda, girls/women were sexually mutilated after getting subjected to rape, including gang-rape. In Sierra Leone, girls who attempted to run away from a rebel captivity were carved with the rebel name RUF on their breasts (Wiki gender, 2011).

Implications for policy and program development

Owing to the fact that women are the most affected by armed conflict and are rarely included in peace missions, several attempts have been made to ensure the inclusion of women in peace initiatives. In 2011, America unveiled a program called National Action Plan (NAP) on Women, Peace, and Security (USAID, 2016). Its aims were focused on the engagement and protection of women and girls as agents of peace and advance gender equality and women’s empowerment and also ensure respect for human rights, and address the need of vulnerable groups in crisis and in conflict environments. In the year 2000, the United Nations Security Council adopted the Resolution 1325 and which was landmark international legal framework which was intended to not only meant to inordinate impact of war on women, but also the vital role women should and do play in conflict management, conflict resolution and sustainable peace (USIP, 2010). The last program is the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action, and which was adopted in 1995 by over 180 UN Member States. This resolution made women and armed conflict among the 12 vital areas of concern. It stated certainly that peace is inevitably tied to equality between men and women and to development. The Beijing Platform for Action issues several vital measures to promote peace and equality by reducing military expenditure and regulating the supply of armaments (UN, 2017).


Gender, W. (2011). Women and armed conflict. Retrieved from Wiki gender:

UN. (2017). Women and Armed Conflict . Retrieved from UN Women:

USAID. (2016). National Action Plan on Women, Peace, and Security. Retrieved from USAID:

USIP. (2010). What is U.N. Security Council Resolution 1325 and Why is it so Critical Today? Retrieved from USIP:

Zarkov, D., (2010). Towards a new theorizing of women, gender and war’ Journal of Gender and Women’s Studies, SAGE, pp. 214-233


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