Women in War report: Women lead their communities but are ignored in decision making


29 May 2024


600 million women around the world live within 50 kilometres of a conflict zone. That is 15% of all women in the world. The number has more than doubled since the 1990s, according to Women in War: Leaders, Responders, and Potential, a new report by CARE.

Download report: Women in War

Based on surveys of more than 13,000 women from 15 countries experiencing conflict, the report found that nine in ten women are taking active, leading roles to support and protect their communities in countries including Ukraine, Yemen, Ethiopia, Syria, and Haiti.

Claudia Craig, Senior Adviser on Gender Justice at CARE International UK, said:

"Time and time again, when conflict breaks out, women take action and they advocate for change. They have proven to be extraordinary leaders, but are consistently excluded from decision making and funding. It is imperative that the next UK Government champions their expertise and funds their solutions. If we view women only as victims of conflict, we will continue to miss crucial opportunities to support their powerful leadership and advocacy."

Women are the unsung heroes of crisis, yet are grossly overlooked when it comes to dialogue and decision-making. Eight in ten women are finding ways to make communities safer, seven in ten are providing health services, and 46% are diversifying incomes to care for their families. However, only one of 18 peace agreements signed in 2022 included signatures from a women’s organisation. This means women’s needs are not considered in conflict resolution and recovery.

Emily Janoch, CARE’s Associate Vice President, Design and Thought Leadership Department, and one of the report’s authors, said:

“The women we heard from are leading in the face of barriers, challenges, and horrific experiences. Women face sexual violence, the loss of incomes and livelihoods, and plummeting health care – leading to higher death rates, even from preventable causes. The challenges are real, and we must do more to address them,” said E “One key path to solving this crisis is recognising and valuing women’s leadership in times of conflict and on the path to peace.”

Compromised health services put women and children at severe risk. In 2022, one in four babies were born within 50km of a conflict. Shockingly, half of women who died during pregnancy or childbirth were in a conflict area.

Women are also significantly underrepresented in media coverage of conflicts. Of more than 7.8 million media mentions of conflict from 2013 to 2023, only 5% of conflict stories focus on women’s experiences, and only 0.3% of those talk about women positively.

Download report: Women in War

Editor’s notes

CARE has collected a vast and diverse array of testimonials and perspectives from women around the world via Rapid Gender Analyses (which began in 2013) and Women Respond reports (which started in 2020), in order to examine how they experience and lead during crisis. The Women in War report is informed by much of this research, along with publicly available datasets.

Media enquiries

For media enquiries, please contact David Moore, Media Officer at CARE International UK, press.uk@careinternational.org

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