Women, Girls and War
Women and girls are underrepresented among combatants but overrepresented among the victims of armed conflict. According to the United Nations Development Fund for Women [UNIFEM], 70 percent of casualties in recent conflicts have been civilians, the majority of them women and children. With the breakdown of infrastructure in conflict zones, women’s struggles to provide food, water and care for their families and communities are exacerbated. Sexual exploitation, harassment and assault are common challenges for both women soldiers and civilians. Rape as a systemic weapon of armed conflict is now widely recognized as a war crime. The United Nations has passed numerous resolutions on women, peace and security (most notably UN Security Council Resolution 1325, which recognizes women’s multiple roles in war and peace) and, in 2008, passed Resolution 1820 calling for more stringent measures to combat sexual violence in armed conflict.