One Year Later: Women and Girls Bear the Brunt of Sudan’s Conflict

ByCARE Australia April 15, 2024 0 comments

CARE, Nairobi, Kenya: One year on, the pervasive use of sexual violence as a weapon of war in the conflict in Sudan is laid bare in a new advocacy brief issued by CARE and some of its partners, titled “Because They Are Women: How the Sudan conflict has created a war on women and girls.  

This conflict has had horrific consequences for millions. It has devastated every facet of Sudanese society, and its impacts have spilled over to neighboring countries already facing their own complex humanitarian emergencies. The most affected are women and girls. They are disproportionately impacted by hostilities, with a wave of gender-based violence (GBV) sweeping the country. Livelihoods have been devastated, infrastructure including healthcare decimated, and now acute food insecurity and a looming famine.  

“We are witnessing a war on women and girls, amidst a terrible wave of violence for the whole country,” said Abdirahman Ali, CARE Sudan Country Director. “Even before the most recent conflict, a staggering 3 million women and girls lived in fear of sexual or gender-based violence. That number has now spiked by nearly 60%, with a major increase in the need for GBV services. This alarming statistic exposes the brutal reality of this conflict and the huge burden placed on Sudanese women and girls, especially those forced to flee their homes. The situation is only getting worse with every passing day.” 

As a result of the conflict, women and girls’ vulnerabilities to violence and deprivation have increased. As highlighted in the brief, protection threats have escalated, and access to life-essential services for survivors of sexual violence is significantly reduced. 

Ahead of the International Humanitarian Conference in Paris on April 15th 2024, CARE is urging action from member states and donors to address this humanitarian catastrophe. The brief calls for a united front in prioritizing gender equality and addressing women’s and girls’ specific needs.  Robust efforts to prevent more sexual violence and guarantee access to GBV response services must be made. 

The heightened risks of GBV are everywhere: from homes in conflict areas to overcrowded camps where people have fled for their safety. Reports from the UN highlight the pervasive use of sexual violence as a weapon of war, with instances of trafficking and exploitation widespread. The impact of the conflict on women and girls is further aggravated by unmet sexual and reproductive health needs: the demand for these services has surged from 3.1 million to 6.7 million since April 2023. Only a fraction of those requiring assistance receive adequate support, and neighboring countries face comparable challenges in delivering specialized care to refugee women and girls. 

Women and girls also make up the majority of the more than 8.5 million forcibly displaced, around 150,000 pregnant women cannot access proper care, with twothirds of health centers not functioning. 

Displaced women face increased protection and health risks, exacerbated by their caregiving responsibilities and limited access to services. Women on the brink of starvation resort to drastic actions such as engaging in survival sex or forced marriage as detailed in the brief. Of the more than 4.86 million people facing acute hunger in Sudan, 1.2 million are pregnant and breastfeeding women suffering from acute malnutrition.  

Despite facing these immense challenges, women in Sudan are showing inspiring resilience and courage at the frontline of the humanitarian response in Sudan. They have been delivering vital support and assistance for women, girls, and other vulnerable groups when international organizations have been unable or severely restricted to deliver aid. However, these essential actors face greater barriers to receiving funding, support, and participation in decision-making. 

Beyond immediate relief, empowering women and girls through increased funding for survivor-centered GBV services and amplifying their voices in humanitarian response and peacebuilding initiatives will be vital.  

“Amid the conflict, wrenching displacement, rampant hunger, and the looming threat of famine, women are at the forefront in responding to the crisis,” Abdirahman stressed. “As doctors, midwives, nurses, aid workers, and volunteers, everyday individuals offer support and relief to those suffering even at the expense of their own lives. Their unwavering dedication is a testament to the enduring power of the human spirit, a beacon that pierces the suffocating darkness. We must urgently support their tireless efforts. Immediate action is imperative to confront the myriad of challenges besieging women and girls in Sudan and neighboring lands.” 


Note to Editors 

For media enquiries contact Briony FitzGerald on 0404 117 927 or email

Images of Health servicesmedicines delivered to hard-to-reach areas, and other activities can be accessed here. You can download the full advocacy brief here 

  • The Brief has been endorsed by local organizations in both Chad and Sudan. They are: 
  • Sudan 

Zenab for Women in Development,  

Global Aid Hand 
United Peace Organization (UPO)  

Raira Organization for Awareness & Development 

  • Chad 


  • Since the beginning of the conflict, CARE has reached 66.112 people with nutrition services and 238,000 with Health Services in over 83 health facilities across the country. 
  • CARE’s lifesaving operations are ongoing in: 
  • East and South Darfur – water provision to refugees and host community and Health services, cash assistance 
  • Gedaref – WASH provision for refugees, IDPs, and host community and Health services 
  • Al Gezira – WASH provision to IDPs and host community 
  • Kassala, Khartoum and South Kordofan – Health services, cash assistance 
  • Care has distributed $558,150 to 11,163 people through cash assistance since the start of the conflict. 

About CARE Australia

CARE Australia supports women around the globe to save lives, defeat poverty and achieve social justice. We work in partnership with local communities to provide equal opportunities for women that they have long been denied: the ability to earn an income, gain access to their fair share of resources, to lead and participate in decisions that affect their lives, and to be able to withstand the increasing impacts of climate disasters and other crises.

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