In recent decades, the international community has sought to address the particular harms that women and girls experience in war. International law now punishes sexual violence in armed conflict. And there’s the Women, Peace and Security agenda, which the U.N. Security Council launched in 2000 with Resolution 1325. That requires member States to consider impacts of conflict based on gender and to involve women more in all aspects of conflict prevention, management, and resolution.

But while some harms rightly receive coverage and draw condemnation, other forms of violence are overlooked.  In November 2023, the World Heath Organization estimated that there were 50,000 pregnant women in Gaza. Since the October 7th  Hamas terrorist attack, it is estimated that nearly 20,000 babies have been born into the humanitarian catastrophe that has unfolded in the Gaza strip.

Around the world – from Ukraine to Sudan to Gaza – violence experienced by pregnant civilians, women giving birth, nursing women, and women struggling to survive in the period after childbirth remains entirely at the sidelines of global political conversations.

Joining the show to discuss what experts call “obstetric harms” faced by women and girls in armed conflict and the obligations of combatants in the face of these risks, is Fionnuala Ní Aoláin. Fionnuala is the former U.N. Special Rapporteur on Human Rights and Counterterrorism, and a law professor at the University of Minnesota and at Queen’s University School of Law in Belfast, Northern Ireland. We’re honored to have her as an Executive Editor at Just Security.

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