Women and Armed Conflict

Beijing+20 - Women and Armed Conflict

Wars and armed – above all regional and innerstate – conflicts have increased significantly over the past few years. In the majority of cases, women are not directly involved as combatants. Yet women and children especially are often specifically targeted and entrapped between the two warring factions. Moreover, land mines continue to pose a threat to the civilian population, even decades after the conflict has ended. And even though women(’s groups) in many countries and regions of conflict are the first to develop reconciliation approaches and take on an important role within the peace alliances – acting as intermediaries between the warring parties – they are frequently excluded from the power structures within which political actors rule on acts of war and negotiate ceasefires and peacekeeping solutions. With this in mind, the Beijing Platform for Action cited the following Strategic Objectives, as far back as twenty years ago:

  • Increase the participation of women in conflict resolution at decision-making levels and protect women living in situations of armed and other conflicts and fleeing or in refugee camps, or under foreign occupation;
  • Reduce military expenditures and limit armaments, or disarm;
  • Promote non-violent forms of conflict resolution and reduce the incidence of human rights abuse in conflict situations;
  • Provide assistance to the women of the colonies and non-self-governing territories.

Present state of implementation:

Following on from the Beijing Platform for Action, numerous countries and institutions, e.g. the EU and NATO, have – on the basis of UN Resolution 1325 on “Women, Peace and Security” as well as a variety of follow-up resolutions (1820, 1888, 1889, 1960, 2106, 2122) – drafted national action plans and/or measures to increase the participation of women, above all female civil society actors, in conflicts and also to levy sanctions on gender-based violence in war and conflict. Women have been involved in the negotiations in individual conflict-affected countries, such as Liberia, the DR of the Congo and Sudan. Female gender advisors and, increasingly, female soldiers are deployed in peacekeeping campaigns, and a gender-sensitive perspective postulated. In isolated cases, international criminal courts (e.g. Sierra Leone, Cambodia, Bosnia) have recognized gender-based acts of violence as crimes against humanity or as acts of war.

Yet, global armament goes on, as does the use of gender-based violence in the majority of ongoing conflicts. And female peace activists continue to be largely excluded from the official conflict resolution level and from ceasefire agreements. Sexualized acts of violence remain a part of war strategies, and the perpetrators are only prosecuted in exceptional circumstances. Moreover, women fleeing with their children are completely unprotected from (sexualized) violence, regardless of whether they are in flight or in camps. And the means of support remain few and far between.


From Transition to Transformation - Women, Peace & Security

Afghan Women have had a long journey in terms of their rights and socio-political participation since the Taliban downfall in 2001. As Afghanistan has just entered into a new decade of transformation, the main questions related to women, peace and security remain: What has been built to ensure women’s protection and participation over the last decade? And what strategic approach could consolidate gender equality in the decade to come?

By Abdullah Athayi

We shall be justice!

"We shall be justice!" said Charlotte Bunch, at the opening of the Women’s Court in Sarajevo which represents an alternative model of transitional justice which introduces a gender perspective into existing mechanisms of attainment of justice, this time based on feminist foundations.

By Paula Petričević

Women in Armed Conflicts – Prosecuting Sexual and Gender based Crimes

In the context of the Beijing +20 Review, the Gunda-Werner Institute and the European Center for Constitutional and Human Rights (ECCHR) hosted an event focused on the achievements and remaining gaps with regard to one of the critical areas mentioned in the Beijing Platform for Action: Women in Armed Conflicts.

By Gitti Hentschel

Sexualized violence in the context of wars

In zones of conflict and/or war sexualized violence is employed as a notably perfidious strategic means to intimidate, humiliate and destroy the adversary. Gitti Hentschel gives a detailed analysis of this war crime and formulates strategies, as well as measures to fight sexualized violence.

By Gitti Hentschel

Innocence under fire

Sexual violence against girls and boys within the context of armed conflict - Report on an expert panel and film screening from December 10, 2013


By Nicola Popovic

Good to Know

  • Progress of the World's Women 2015/2016: detailed report by the UN Women on the economical barriers facing women, and strategies of improving the political participation of women on a global scale. more>>
  • Beijing Platform for Action
    Read the 1995 Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action here
    An overview the Platform's 12 critical areas of concern by the UN Women. more>>
  • Women in Armed Conflicts: in the context of the CSW 59, the GWI co-hosted an event at concering a pressing issue for the Platform - women in armed conflicts. more>>


Critical Voices, Visions and Vectors for Internet Governance


Anmelden Abmelden

Die GWI-News rund um Feminismus & Geschlechterdemokratie.