An article in The Age draws attention to staggering facts on women in war stricken societies and discusses a recent study that argues the protection of such women are critical to fighting poverty.

YOUNG women occupy a strange space in most cultures. As mothers, sisters and daughters, their strength and resilience help hold their communities together. But in times of war they are often the first and most vulnerable targets.

That is how it was for Bintu and Rumenia.

Bintu is from Liberia, where she was captured by rebels during the civil war. Rumenia is from East Timor and lost her 20-year-old older brother in the 2006 uprising when he was shot outside her family home.

Their experiences and that of other women living “in the shadow of war” have been documented by international child aid agency Plan in a special report, the second in a series of nine.

It argues that drastic legal change is needed to protect women and girls if the world is to meet the United Nations millenium development goal to halve world poverty by 2015.

“Over 200 million girls are living in poverty in states teetering on the brink of chaos,” the report says.

“Up to 90% of victims of modern war are civilians; a substantial proportion are women and children. One hundred thousand girls are child soldiers.”

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