Gender and disarmament

Taking a new look____________


On 14 March, just after International Women’s Day but during the annual session of the Commission on the Status of Women, the Office for Disarmament Affairs teamed up with the Office of the Special Adviser on Gender Issues and the Advancement of Women to launch a new process and a new publication, GENDER PERSPECTIVES ON DISARMAMENT.

The new process is the raising of awareness of the linkages between issues of gender and disarmament. Some are well known. Women’s voices were a powerful force in the achievement of the partial nuclear-test-ban treaty in 1963 and the mine ban convention in 1998. The Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom is one of the oldest and most influential peace NGOs, starting with the Geneva Disarmament Conference in 1932.

Women have formed their own caucus in the run up to the United Nations Conference on the Illicit Trade in Small Arms. They stress not only the victimization of women at the threat or use of illegal weapons, but the effective impact women can have in their families, communities and nations in tackling ways to control these weapons.

The publication is in packet form with four page easily digestible briefing notes on six subjects—weapons of mass destruction, small arms, disarmament, demobilization and reintegration (DDR), landmines, disarmament and development and women’s advocacy for peace and disarmament.

The publication is the first attempt by two entities in the United Nations Secretariat at making the connections between the two subjects. As such it sets a precedent for other offices to make similar linkages. The insights they offer can be invaluable for policy makers and practitioners of arms control alike. It is hoped that the publication and its public launching will spur greater interest and shed further light on this vital subject.

The free publication can be obtained by writing the Office for Disarmament Affairs or the Office of the Special Adviser for Gender Issues. The Briefing Notes, as well as the statements made at the panel discussion on 14 March, are available on the UNODA website.