From helplessness to agency: examining the plurality of women's experiences in armed conflict

Although women routinely display remarkable resilience and fortitude by adopting new roles and taking on new responsibilities when confronted by the ravages of war, they continue to be depicted by many humanitarian actors as being intrinsically weak and vulnerable – a depiction that results in the perceptible absence of women from decision-making bodies both during and in the wake of conflict. This article argues for the need to consider the plurality of women's experiences in war, including as female heads of households, as victims (and survivors) of sexual violence, as community leaders, and as armed combatants.

About the authors

Medina Haeri
ICRC Attaché

Medina Haeri is an attaché at the ICRC’sWomen and War division. She holds an MA from the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy.

Nadine Puechguirbal

Nadine Puechguirbal is the ICRC’s Women and War adviser. She was the former gender adviser to the UN peacekeeping operation in Haiti.