facts figures

Facts & Figures on Peace & Security

  • Women’s participation in peace negotiations remains ad hoc, not systematic — it averages less than 8 percent of the 11 peace processes for which such information is available [1]. Fewer than3 percent of signatories to peace agreements are women [1].
  • No women have been appointed Chief or Lead peace mediators in UN-sponsored peace talks, but in some talks sponsored by the AU or other institutions women have joined a team of mediators. A recent positive case is the role of Graça Machel as one of the three mediators for the Kenya crisis in 2008.
  • Sexual violence exacerbates conflict and perpetuates insecurity in the wake of war. It holds entire communities hostage, and has an economic, social, cultural and inter-generational impact: women cannot access water-points and markets; children cannot safely get to school; ‘war babies’ are ostracized.
  • 250,000–500,000 women and girls were raped during the 1994 genocide in Rwanda [2].
  • 20,000–50,000 women and girls were raped during the war in Bosnia-Herzegovina in the early 1990s [3].
  • 50,000–64,000 internally displaced women in Sierra Leone were sexually attacked by combatants [4].
  • An average of 40 women and girls are being raped every day in South Kivu, DRC [5]. It is estimated that more than 200,000women and children have been raped over more than a decade of the country’s conflict [6].
  • Civilians account for the vast majority of victims in contemporary wars; those least empowered suffer most.
  • Women and girls are targeted as a tactic of war to humiliate, dominate, instil fear in, punish, disperse and/or forcibly relocate members of a community/ethnic group.
  • Out of 300 peace agreements for 45 conflict situations in the 20 years since the end of the Cold War, 18 have addressed sexual violence in 10 conflict situations (Burundi, Aceh, DRC, Sudan/Nuba Mountains, Sudan/Darfur, Philippines, Nepal, Uganda, Guatemala, and Chiapas)
  • Women have a legal right to be protected from sexual violence, even in the midst of war, and victims have a right to reparations. Amnesty to sexual violence as an international crime (Art. 7 CEDAW; Rome Statute Statute 8(2)(b)(xxii)) is counter to international law.
  • Peace will not be sustained if the deal is considered unjust or if the accord does not take measures to rebuild the foundations of society.
  • With regard to trials of sexual violence as a war crime, crime against humanity, crime associated with genocide, and use in torture, sexual violence has been the “least condemned war crime.”
  • At the International Criminal Tribunal for Former Yugoslavia, 18decisions resulting in convictions are related to sexual violence. The number is lower in other courts: eight in the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda, and six in the Special Court for Sierra Leone.
  • UNIFEM (now UN Women) analysed the extent to which gender was mainstreamed in eight Post-Conflict Needs Assessments (PCNAs), and found that gender issues were mentioned in sub-sectoral narrative overviews but less often specified in cost estimates for priority spending. Out of the total US$77 billionbudgeted for the eight PCNAs, about 36 percent of the funds were in sub-sectors containing gender analysis in the narrative, but only 16 percent were associated with targets, outputs or indicators specifically addressing women’s needs, and less than 8 percent of actual budgets addressed women’s needs.
  • UNIFEM (now UN Women) analysed five Poverty Reduction Strategy Papers (PRSPs) of countries on the Security Council agenda in 2009, and found that the inclusion of women’s needs and issues was extremely scarce at the outcomes level (less than 3 percent), the activities and indicators level (about 6 percent) and the budget level (less than 2 percent).


Wartime sexual violence has been one of history’s greatest silences. — Elisabeth Rehn and Ellen Johnson Sirleaf in Women, War, Peace, 2002.

In no other area is our collective failure to ensure effective protection for civilians more apparent…than in terms of the masses of women and girls, but also boys and men, whose lives are destroyed each year by sexual violence perpetrated in conflict. — UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, 2007.

It is now more dangerous to be a woman than to be a soldier in modern conflict. — Maj. Gen. Patrick Cammaert, 2008.

Sexual violence is the monstrosity of our century. — Dr. Mukwege of Panzi Hospital, DRC.

I am outraged at our almost complete inability to address this scourge. — UN Under-Secretary General Jan Egeland, 2006.

If we look at the range of interventions necessary to address sexual violence in conflict and post-conflict situations, it becomes clear how pressing is the need for a concerted and integrated approach. — UN Under-Secretary General Jean-Marie Guehenno


  1.  UNIFEM’s research on women’s participation in peace processes (forthcoming, 2010).
  2. UN Special Rapporteur to the Commission on Human Rights, ‘Report on the Situation of Human Rights in Rwanda’ (E/CN.4/1996/68) para 16.
  3. Ward, Jeanne on behalf of the RHRC, ‘Bosnia and Herzegovina’, If not Now, When?: Addressing Gender-based Violence in Refugee, Internally Displaced, and Post-Conflict Settings, 2002, p.81.
  4. Physicians for Human Rights, ‘Executive Summary’ War-Related Sexual Violence in Sierra Leone: A Population-based Assessment (2002) 3.
  5. Rodriguez, Claudia, ‘Sexual Violence in South Kivu’, Forced Migration Review, 2007 (27), p.45.
  6. Statement of Hilde F. Johnson, Co-Chair of UN Action Against Sexual Violence in Conflict, 5 March 2009.