| Development in conflict: The gender dimension |
|II. Case studies|
|B: The effects of conflict on women|
WOMEN'S ISSUES IN THE CONTEXT OF OVERT CONFLICT
1 Women-headed households
Temporary, in the context of displacement until reunited with spouse in original place of residence; or
Permanent, in the context of death of spouse, or resettlement in a far away place without the spouse who may have decided to stay behind in the conflict area or join either of the armed forces
· Increased triple burden as women are left to care for children and the aged.
· Issue of survival/increased marginalisation in a society where the sexual division of labour determines allocation of resources, rights, and opportunities (statistics from Third World countries show that women-headed households tend to be the poorest).
· More vulnerable to sexual abuse (although women who have their spouses around have also been raped, some in front of their defenceless and terrified spouses).
· Mental stress/psychological impact of war and its consequences. Women have to attend to the needs of family members who have been scarred by war even while she, herself, suffers all sorts of stresses and vulnerabilities.
2 Sexual abuse and harassment, in the context of the following:
Within area/community of conflict, during operations (civilians caught in the war, local or international); under interrogation/detention by military; when seeking welfare assistance (e.g. evacuation, food, water, health services).
Forms of sexual abuse/specific problems
· Rape: military/political rape (repeated rape by one man/multiple rape)
· Sexual harassment : threat of sexual abuse
· humiliation through verbal vulgarities and abuse by men
· vulnerability to touching of sensitive/private parts by men (documented by Gabriela);
· Sexual commodification: military prostitution, as an established institution/ culture of patriarchy;
3 Severe condition of reproduction-related responsibilities among women civilians caught in the midst of military operations/total war tactics and strategies
Specific problems (outside of sexual abuse and harassment, and as women-headed households)
· As food producers, procurers and prepares: increased hardship due to food blockades, no man's land (limited mobility), food quotas, economic constriction, devastation of livestock/crops.
· As household health managers: increased hardship due to bombings and strafing resulting in deaths in the household, deaths of infants and children due to malnutrition and outbreak of epidemics, cutting-off of institutional support, limited mobility.
· As child-carers: unimagined hardship due to all of the above, manages the children during evacuations bombing, etc.
· As pregnant and lactating mothers: malnutrition, physical and emotional stress
4 Women's health
(There is a need to separate this as an issue since most often, it is only the health of children and mothers which is addressed in the context of relief assistance during armed conflicts and in evacuation centres.)
Specific health problems
· Malnutrition among women.
· Maternal health.
· Psychological/emotional stress or instabilities resulting from war and its consequences (death, dislocation, rape, etc.).
· Physical disabilities/illnesses arising from war that make it difficult for women to carry out critical reproductive roles.
· Sexually transmitted diseases and/or viral/bacterial infection: may be due to rape, inadequate/poor sanitation; often overlooked by women themselves; if unattended, may leave to more serious reproduction-related illnesses such as cancer.
Gigi Francisco, Women's Resource and Research Center: April 1991