In the case of famine, flood, earthquake, civil conflict, epidemic disease, or war, women and children separated from the men of their families are exceptionally vulnerable. Armed conflicts affect men and women alike in terms of economic and social dislocation, displacement of people, physical disability, and emotional and psychological damage. Women, however, are more vulnerable to violation of their basic human rights, because they are less able to defend themselves. Several forms of physical violence and discrimination are endemic in most societies. In situations of armed conflict, women are especially vulnerable because they are fleeing persecution, because of the social disruption caused by flight, because they are sometimes separated from their families and the protection of their community, and finally because they are foreigners in an alien environment. Often it is the children and the aged, usually women, who succumb first, lacking the resources or abilities to overcome the hazards with which they are surrounded. Lasting traumatic damage often accompanies the harrowing experiences of man-made or natural disasters, and unprotected children thus become impaired adults.
Mothers and children have the right to continue the propagation of their kind in peace and good health. No society which neglects their care during natural and human-made disasters and emergencies continues to grow.