2017 Education and Research, Health and Social Protection Other

Effects of Violent Conflict on Women and Children: Sexual Behvaior, Fertility, and Infant Mortality in Rwanda and the Democratic Republic of Congo

Elina Elveborg Lindskog

This thesis deals with the relationship between violent conflict and sexual and reproductive behavior in Rwanda and the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). The aim is to contribute to the literature on how war affects demographic outcomes across individual life courses. It links data measuring the intensity and frequency of violent conflict with women’s sexual and birth histories and infant deaths across time and place. The thesis is set in the context of tropical Africa, Rwanda and the DRC, countries that are characterized by social and economic upheaval and war.

This summary was presented during the seminar SRHR.

Main findings

  • The conflict indicators provide strong evidence of a conflict effect on premarital sex in Rwanda. The results are consistent with social disruption, weak community and parental control that may otherwise inhibit young women’s experience of first premarital sex.
  • The first birth risk increased during the Congolese war and in the period immediately following. Higher-order birth risks plateaued during the war but decreased thereafter. Taken together, the results are consistent with a postponement and eventual onset of a fertility transition in the DRC.
  • Post-neonatal mortality increased during the Congolese wars, and was highest where conflict events and deaths were extreme. Neonatal mortality was not associated with conflict levels. Infant mortality was not higher in East DRC, where conflicts continued during the post Congolese war period.

Elina Elveborg Lindskog defended her thesis Effects of violent conflict on women and children. Sexual behavior, fertility, and infant mortality in Rwanda and the Democratic Republic of Congo in June 2016.