According to the estimates, almost 90 percent of the war casualties consist of civilians. This includes children and women in large numbers unlike the past century when 90 percent of the military professionals lost their life.
Consequences of war and armed conflict cause suffering for the entire community but in majority they affect girls and women the most. It is because of their status in society that they have to suffer always. Many forms of violence are committed against women in armed conflict which includes rape, sexual slavery, murder, forced sterilization, and forced pregnancy. But then women should not be viewed as the only war victims. Even in such grave situations, women despite being the war victim, they take up the role of bread winner for livelihood of family members amidst all the destruction and chaos. Women take up active roles and start working from the grass root level for improvement and maintenance of peace amongst communities.
In 1995, Fourth global conference on Women was held in Beijing and recognized the armed conflict’s effect on women as one of the 12 major areas of concern, for action to be taken by international communities and government. To bring the best out of the given situation equal involvement of women is required for decision making and conflict resolution.
In year 1998, the United Nations Commission in its 42nd session discussed more about the issue of women and armed conflict. An action plan was proposed to be taken by the international community and member states to speed up the commission’s objectives in this area. One of the key conclusions of this session was to mainstream the gender perspectives to all relevant programmes and policies. Some of the conclusions of the conference, on which every body agreed was taking measures to safeguard justice for sensitive gender, concentrate on the specific needs of women refugees and number of people displaced and further increase of women participation in peace-building, peacekeeping, decision making pre and post conflict and prevention of conflict.
Beijing conference has led to important developments at the global level in the handling of crimes perpetrated against women in armed conflict situation. Women and girls suffer from various abuses and women refugees are not invulnerable to exploitation and violence in the asylum countries as well as during flight and during relocation. Refugee guidelines are issued by the United Nations High Commissioner for the protection of refugee women which includes the response to and prevention of sexual attacks against them. These guidelines ensure that international law provides adequate protection to these vulnerable women, even in gender-based discrimination experience. Countries like Canada, New Zealand, Australia, United States, United Kingdom, France and Germany allow refugee status if persecuted on gender grounds. This includes mutilation of female genitalia, forced abortion, forces marriage, domestic violence and honour killings. Some of the member states have understood the importance of giving psychological and physical support to refugee women, mainly those who have suffered gender based abuses.