Women, Conflict, Urban Poverty
8th September 2014
Much of the world is currently in conflict. It is important to consider whether women, who are already facing severe inequality and deprivation of basic human rights, suffer any additional inequality during such times of conflict. The United States Security Council report said that women and girls suffer disproportionately during and after the war, as existing inequalities were magnified and social networks broke down, making them more vulnerable to sexual violence and exploitation.
Patterns of Suffering
There are several reasons for the disproportionate suffering of women after war. This can include the widespread use of rape as a weapon of war, the high number of war widows left to fend for their family, and the lack of women in leadership and peacekeeping roles. This has led women to suffer a disproportionate consequences from the war.
A study of Liberia showed that though systemic rape, forced prostitution and trafficking are all prohibited under the Geneva Conventions, sexual violence is still endemic. The survey was held in 2006 for 1,600 women, and found that 92% of women had faced some form sexual violence during the 13 year civil war in the country.
However, sexual violence is not the only issue. The other issue is that with growing civilian deaths, war compounds the already crushing levels of poverty that already disproportionately affect women.
In Iraq, women are not allowed to enter the workforce. They are therefore reduced to begging in front of mosques and selling cheap goods in the streets, where they can be arrested. The level of social security is also disproportionately low. Further, there is a huge issue of maternal mortality rate, with women being unable to get maternal health care. In Gaza, unemployment has risen for the entire region, but women’s unemployment has gone up to 52%. Again, this affects maternal health – many women are anaemic, leading to maternal deaths.
Further, women have to bear the brunt of Ebola mortality, given that they have to act as caretakers of the ill, exposing them to the virus. Due to sexual exploitation, they are also more vulnerable to HIV/AIDS.