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Women and War: a conversation with Dr Helen Durham

This event explored key issues relating to the way women experience war, the ways in which women are protected during armed conflict and the ways in which protections for women have developed under international humanitarian law.

Women and War

Women experience conflict very differently from men. Women are increasingly playing an active role as combatants during conflict and must be treated with due respect in this capacity - for example, international humanitarian law (IHL) requires that women prisoners of war must be housed separately from men.

Female civilians caught up in conflict also experience particular issues. Women are particularly vulnerable to the separation of family, both during and after an armed conflict. Women in the civilian population also take on major responsibility in families and communties for coping with other consequences of armed conflict, especially when the health and security of civilian populations is not respected. After an armed conflict, women often play a key role in rebuilding communities and peace and security.

International humanitarian law seeks to prevent and alleviate suffering during times of war without discrimination based on sex. However, IHL recognises that women must often confront particular issues during war, such as sexual violence and risks to their health. Indeed, in today's conflicts, the impact of fighting on women can be severe.

This online conversation will seek to explore key issues relating to the way women experience war, the various ways in which women are protected during armed conflict and the ways in which protections for women have developed under IHL.


Dr Helen Durham

Dr Helen Durham

Dr Helen Durham is the former Director of International Law and Strategy at Australian Red Cross. Helen is currently ICRC Director - International Law & Policy. Learn more »