Women in Sudan: Bearing the Brunt of a Vicious War

The plight of Sudanese women in the ongoing conflict demands global attention and action

In 2019, Sudanese women played a pivotal role in the movement that led to the ouster of President Omar Hassan al-Bashir. However, their fight for democracy and change has taken a devastating turn as they now face the brutal consequences of a vicious war. With millions displaced, a crumbling healthcare system, and a surge in sexual and gender-based violence, the world must not turn a blind eye to the suffering of Sudanese women.

Displacement and Healthcare Crisis

Since the war erupted in mid-April, over six million people have been displaced, including an estimated 105,000 pregnant women. The United Nations reports that nearly nine out of ten of the 1.2 million refugees who have fled to neighboring countries are women and children. The dire state of the healthcare system, with 70 to 80 percent of hospitals in conflict areas non-operational, has severe consequences for women in need of maternal health care. The lack of access to essential medicines puts their lives and the lives of their unborn children at risk.

Epidemic of Sexual and Gender-Based Violence

Sudan is facing an alarming epidemic of sexual and gender-based violence. The World Health Organization estimates that more than four million women and girls are at risk of sexual violence. A UN experts’ report highlights the brutal and widespread use of rape and other forms of sexual violence by the paramilitary Rapid Support Forces (RSF). Some of the reported cases appear to be ethnically and racially motivated, reminiscent of the Darfur crisis two decades ago. Human Rights Watch has documented a “staggering number of rapes and other war crimes” committed by the RSF during attacks on West Darfur’s capital. Survivors have shared harrowing accounts of being forcibly disappeared, held as sex slaves, and subjected to repeated sexual assault.

Allegations of External Support

Accusations have surfaced regarding regional powers exacerbating the situation for Sudan’s women. Reports suggest that the United Arab Emirates (UAE) has been supplying arms to the RSF. The UAE’s alleged material support for the RSF has raised concerns, with calls for all countries involved in the conflict to cease such efforts. The UAE has denied these accusations, but the impact of its alleged involvement on Sudan’s women cannot be ignored. As the UAE prepares to host the United Nations Climate Change Conference, its global reputation hinges on ensuring a clean break from any association with the warring parties in Sudan.

International Responsibility

All regional and international actors must play a constructive role in bringing peace to Sudan. It is crucial that they prioritize human rights and not pursue selfish economic and strategic interests. The world’s attention may be focused on other crises, but the suffering of Sudanese women demands urgent action. Drawing from the experience of rebuilding Liberia after war, where women’s empowerment was instrumental in achieving reconciliation, it is clear that Sudan must follow a similar path. The collective effort of all stakeholders is necessary to alleviate the plight of Sudanese women.


The plight of Sudanese women in the ongoing war is a pressing humanitarian crisis that demands global attention. Displacement, a crumbling healthcare system, and a surge in sexual and gender-based violence have left women in a vulnerable and perilous position. The international community, including regional powers and the UAE, must prioritize peace and human rights over their own interests. Sudan’s path to reconciliation and stability relies on the empowerment and protection of its women. Let us join together in supporting Sudanese women and contributing to their journey towards a brighter future.






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