“If we focus exclusively on women as victims, not as agents of the peace, we will fail to invest in a major driver of recovery, which is women’s leadership for peacebuilding.”
— UN Women Executive Director Michelle Bachelet
 

A devastating silence

Violence against women in conflict is still severely underreported. In cases of sexual violence, survivors face severe medical problems and psychological trauma. They often cease contributing to the economy within their area and are crippled by shame and stigmatization from their community.

Over the course of 100 days during the Rwandan Genocide in 1994, up to half a million women were raped, resulting between 2,000 and 5,000 births. Both survivors and their children were pushed to the margins of their own communities due to stigma.

However, seeing survivors of this violence as helpless victims does damage to onlookers and to the survivors themselves. In fact, their experiences should motivate full inclusion of women in the peacebuilding process, before and after conflict erupts. But even though women make up 50 percent of the population, they are often excluded from conflict resolution.

Photo: Benjamin Edwards/World Relief

Photo: Benjamin Edwards/World Relief

 

 

The International Response

In 2000, The United Nations Security Council adopted Resolution 1325 on Women, Peace and Security. For the first time, the international peace and security agenda focused on conflict’s disproportionate impact on women and the need for women’s involvement in conflict resolution and peacebuilding.

Fifteen years later, violence against women as a weapon of war and as a means of forcibly displacing people is still an ongoing trend. Secretary General Ban-Ki Moon has advised the international community that high-level advocacy alone will not suffice: grassroots-level peace must be established.

Photo: Sean Sheridan/World Relief

Photo: Sean Sheridan/World Relief

 

Header Image: Sean Sheridan/World Relief