War and Gender Inequalities in Health: The Impact of Armed Conflict on Fertility and Maternal Mortality


Urdal, Henrik, and Chi Primus Che. 2013. “War and Gender Inequalities in Health: The Impact of Armed Conflict on Fertility and Maternal Mortality.” International Interactions 39 (4): 489–510.

Authors: Henrik Urdal, Chi Primus Che


Recent studies have found significant excess mortality in women during and immediately after armed conflicts. This article directly assesses one of the most likely explanations, namely that war negatively affects reproductive health. Armed conflicts may contribute to sustain high fertility levels through increased social insecurity, loss of reproductive health services, and lower female education. Further, war's deteriorating impact on health infrastructure is expected to increase the relative risk that women die from complications associated with pregnancy and childbirth. These claims are tested in a global time-series cross-national study from 1970 through 2005. Three major findings are reported. First, armed conflicts are associated with higher overall fertility in low-income countries only. Second, maternal mortality rates are elevated, albeit moderately, in conflict countries. Third, conflicts in neighboring countries are associated with lower maternal mortality, possibly indicating that health interventions among refugee and host populations are relatively successful. While addressing one of the least successful UN Millennium Development Goals, this study also responds to the UN Security Council Resolution 1325, in which Article 16 specifically calls for the "Secretary-General to carry out a study on the impact of armed conflict on women and girls."

Keywords: armed conflict, conflict deaths, fertility, maternal health, UNSCR 1325

Topics: Armed Conflict, Gender, Women, Girls, Gendered Power Relations, Gender Equality/Inequality, Health, Reproductive Health, International Organizations, UN Security Council Resolutions on WPS, UNSCR 1325

Year: 2013

© 2023 CONSORTIUM ON GENDER, SECURITY & HUMAN RIGHTSLEGAL STATEMENT All photographs used on this site, and any materials posted on it, are the property of their respective owners, and are used by permission. Photographs: The images used on the site may not be downloaded, used, or reproduced in any way without the permission of the owner of the image. Materials: Visitors to the site are welcome to peruse the materials posted for their own research or for educational purposes. These materials, whether the property of the Consortium or of another, may only be reproduced with the permission of the owner of the material. This website contains copyrighted materials. The Consortium believes that any use of copyrighted material on this site is both permissive and in accordance with the Fair Use doctrine of 17 U.S.C. § 107. If, however, you believe that your intellectual property rights have been violated, please contact the Consortium at info@genderandsecurity.org.