Stop The War on Children 2020 Report: Gender Matters

Thursday 13 February 2020

Our new report, ‘Stop the War on Children 2020: Gender Matters’, which we release today 13th February as world leaders gather for the Munich Security Conference.

This is our third annual report on the impact of conflict on children across the globe, and it reveals shocking trends in the threats to the safety and wellbeing of children living in areas impacted by conflict. 

The report this year also explores how boys and girls are impacted by conflict in different ways. This most comprehensive collection of data on children living in conflict-affected areas shows that:

  • Nine in ten child victims of sexual violence are girls
  • Boys are more often killed or maimed, abducted or recruited by armed groups
  • Boys are more likely to be killed in direct warfare, if girls are killed or badly injured it is more likely to be a result of indiscriminate explosive weapons
  • Wars and conflicts are intensifying and becoming increasingly dangerous for children. Whilst fewer children are living in conflict-affected areas compared to last year, those who do face the greatest risk of falling victim to serious violence since systematic records began. Since 2010, the number of children living in conflict zones has increased by 34%. At the same time, the number of verified incidents of grave violations against children have risen by 170%
  • 415 million children worldwide are living in a conflict zone, including 149 million children living in high-intensity conflict zones where more than 1,000 battle-related deaths occur in a year. Overall, the number of children living in conflict zones is highest in Africa, with 170 million in total. Proportionately, the Middle East has the highest share with almost 1 out of 3 children in the region living in conflict zones
  • While there is no doubt that children engage in a variety of activities in humanitarian response design as well as in building and sustaining peace, their voices are not sufficiently heard, and their potential remains both under-recognised and underfunded.

As world leaders gather to discuss key strategic issues at the Munich Security Conference, we must continue to push for a new global commitment to Stop the War on Children. This includes (1) upholding international norms and standards, (II) ensuring that those who commit crimes against children are held to account and that (III) more is done to support children recovering from conflict and to protect them from harm.

Additionally, looking at grave violations against children with a gender lens paves the way for a better understanding of the impacts of conflict, and how to best respond to the needs of affected children. This report gives concrete recommendations to states and humanitarian actors on how to improve their responses so that they are sensitive to differences between both ages and genders.

 In 2019 we saw some progress against these three pillars.  (I) Over 100 States, representing more than half of UN member states, have now endorsed the Safe Schools Declaration and committed to keep schools safe during armed conflict. (II)The International Criminal Court (ICC) has launched an investigation into crimes against the Rohingya, while the International Court of Justice (ICJ) has just announced its ruling that Myanmar must take measures to prevent the genocide of Rohingya. (III) There is also global progress towards addressing the challenge of providing for child mental health and psychosocial support in humanitarian settings. 

These examples are testament to what is possible and should serve as a call to further action. It is only through concerted and deliberate efforts that we can reverse current trends and stop the war on children.