The extent to which conflict restricts women’s freedom of movement depends on a number of factors including the stage of conflict, whether the women are displaced, whether they are directly or indirectly affected by the conflict, and the cultural norms of the conflict-affected area. Forced displacement, for example, may in some cases lead to greater mobility, where women assume additional responsibilities such as taking on the role of primary breadwinner.
Nevertheless, it is generally accepted that the fear of violence more often than not restricts women’s freedom of movement. In times of political, economic and social uncertainty, there is a strong tendency to revert to traditional values which appear to offer protection for women and girls but which restrict their mobility.
Some of negative impacts of conflict on women‘s health and education include:
- Access to reproductive health care facilities is often lacking
- The needs of men and combatants may be given precedence over the needs of women and non-combatants.
- Women’s access to health care may be constrained by household and domestic tasks or cultural norms.
- Women’s authority to control their own reproductive lives may be eroded by the social changes and displacement.
- When schools are destroyed, and children have to travel long distances, girls are more likely to stay at home.
- Girls who are living in temporary conditions due to conflcit may lack the support and encouragement to continue their education.
- In emergencies, there are usually far fewer women who are able to volunteer as teachers, and girls are disproportionately affected when schools are dominated by men.
- Girls who are desperate to attend school in emergency situations may have to engage in transactional sex with older men.
- Teenage pregnancy rates are often very high in refugee camps, and girls with their own babies may not be able to attend school.
- Girls who are disabled, disfigured or severely mentally affected by the crisis are likely to be kept at home.