Study published: Women's experiences of armed conflict and forced migration


A study recently published in Conflict and Health investigated the experiences of armed conflict and forced migration among women from countries in the Middle East, the Balkans and Africa. The study shows that women face significant challenges linked to changed living conditions, and are exposed to health-related risks and consequences.

Photo of a woman walking with four children close to a refugee camp

Systematic review

A systematic review was conducted in which qualitative studies published from 1980 were included. In total, 3 800 reports were screened by searching databases, references, and citations. Of these, 26 reports were included in the study and these were analyzed using thematic analysis.

Changing living conditions and health-related consequences

The study found three themes. The first theme is about changed living conditions. This included reduced safety, exposure to violence in general, insufficient access to resources for basic needs, and migration as a last resort.

The second theme deals with health-related consequences. Women experienced a demanding psychological situation involving fears, uncertainties, and anxiety.

Tommy Carlsson is one of the researchers behind the study: 

– An important finding was the structural and severe violence and discrimination described among women, which was expressed in many ways and in many settings. Women’s right to freedom was violated and they were exposed to sexual violence.

Resilience and strength

Photo of Tommy Carlsson
Tommy Carlsson, associated researcher at the
Healthcare Sciences and e-Health research group,
Women’s and Children’s Health at Uppsala University,
and associate professor at the Swedish
Red Cross University College.

The third theme portrays the various resources and strategies promoting resilience and strength among these women. Through social support and their families, women gained strength to cope with the difficult situation. They also utilized a range of internal resources and strategies, such as faith and optimism.

– Our study shows that women experiencing armed conflicts and forced migration encounter various challenges and describe a risk of significant health-related consequences, explains Tommy Carlsson. Besides the general risks encountered by persons exposed to war and forced migration, we also identified many risks and consequences that are specific in regard to women. Taken together, our results illustrate the large and difficult situation women experience when they live in a setting involving war and forced migration. At the same time, we also found that these women show considerable resilience and strength.

Read the full paper “Experiences of armed conflicts and forced migration among women from countries in the Middle East, Balkans, and Africa: a systematic review of qualitative studies”. It is written by Linda Jolof, Patricia Rocca, Monir Mazaheri, Leah Okenwa Emegwa, and Tommy Carlsson.

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Last modified: 2023-03-24