Most combatants in armed conflict are men, so naturally men are the major direct victims of military operations. Yet, armed conflicts have important indirect negative consequences on agriculture, infrastructure, public health provision and social order. These indirect consequences are often overlooked and under-appreciated. They will also affect women and arguably more so than men. This article provides the first rigorous analysis of the impact of armed conflict on female relative to male life expectancy. We find that over the entire conflict period interstate and civil wars on average affect women more adversely than men. In peace times, women typically live longer than men. Hence, armed conflict tends to decrease the gap between female and male life expectancy. For civil wars, we find that it is ethnic wars that are damaging to women and particularly so if they take place in ‘failed’ states. Our findings challenge policy makers as well as international and humanitarian organizations to develop policies that tackle the large indirect and long-term negative health impacts of armed conflicts.