Gender and disarmament
"With assistance from the United Nations, Afghan women are now working hard to replace the culture of violence with a culture of peace, in the hope that the next generation of young Afghan men and women can work in partnership in a free and secure Afghanistan, where there is no longer a need for guns."1
amina omeri, united nations development programme
Gender issues have become increasingly important in the disarmament debate.2
The General Assembly endorsed, in 1996, the "Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action" produced by the 1995 Fourth World Conference on Women.3
In 2000, the Security Council adopted a resolution on women and peace and security.4
These actions provided an important framework for taking account of gender concerns in the UN's work, including disarmament.
An important analytical tool for bringing gender concerns into the disarmament process is that of "gender mainstreaming",5
which can help create an understanding of how differently men and women view weapons-related issues and power-relationships.
Since DDA publicly released its Gender Mainstreaming Action Plan (the Action Plan) in 2003 to facilitate the practical application of gender mainstreaming,6
the Department, together with its partners, have made efforts to apply gender mainstreaming to its disarmament-related activities, including bringing views and concerns of women into the disarmament debate. DDA has encouraged more women to participate in the disarmament debate at various disarmament fora and it has made efforts to bring more women to the disarmament bodies such as the Advisory Board on Disarmament Matters and various UN governmental expert groups.
In 2004, UNIFEM (United Nations Development Fund for Women) greatly increased its activities in the area of Disarmament, Demobilization and Reintegration (DDR), published lessons learned, developed a standard operating procedure and provided expertise to inter-agency processes. Two in-depth case studies, one on Liberia and one on Bougainville, Papua New Guinea, add to the compendium of materials that form UNIFEM's publication on Gender and DDR, Getting it Right, Doing it Right: Gender and Disarmament, Demobilization and Reintegration. The final product in the publication was a Standard Operating Procedure on Gender and DDR that was developed in close collaboration with the Inter-Agency Working Group on DDR that is currently developing a coherent UN approach to DDR. UNIFEM organized a panel to launch the publication entitled, "Gender and Disarmament in Africa." The panel also commemorated the fourth anniversary of Security Council resolution 1325 (2000) on Women, Peace and Security.
In August, UNIFEM co-organized a workshop in Rwanda for former women combatants who are members of the Ndabaga Association, the first organization for demobilized women in the Great Lakes region. The workshop marked the first time since Ndabaga's inception in 2001 that membership from all Rwandan provinces was able to assemble. This built on work begun in October 2003 in partnership with the National Reconstruction and Demobilization Commission to maintain the centrality of women in the upcoming phases of national reconstruction and development. As a result of UNIFEMs efforts, a record of women ex-combatants has been established and an assessment of their social conditions and economic needs carried out.
UNIFEM also provided gender expertise to several forums that reviewed the policy and implementation challenges associated with DDR. In addition to the Inter-Agency Working Group on DDR, UNIFEM also provided gender expertise to the World Bank's Multi-Country Demobilization and Reintegration Programme (MDRP).
UNIFEM continued to be an active member of the Coordinating Action on Small Arms (CASA) mechanism that is chaired by DDA. In addition to supporting CASA's research database project, UNIFEM participated as gender experts in several conferences organized by other CASA members, for example a meeting in San Salvador, in April, geared towards training researchers in SALW. UNIFEM also briefed researchers in the region on gender perspectives of SALW and presented the findings of its 2003 Expert Group Meeting on Identifying the Research Gaps in Gender and SALW.
From a presentation on "Women and Security in Afghanistan" at a DDA-sponsored subregional meeting on SALW (Almaty, 16-18 March). Ms. Omeri of UNDPs Afghanistan New Beginnings Programme highlighted the effects of guns and violence on the lives of women in that country.
The Office of the Special Advisor on Gender Issues and the Advancement of Women (OSAGI) (within the UN's Department of Economic and Social Affairs) defines "gender" on its web site (http://www.un.org/ womenwatch/osagi/conceptsandefinitions.htm) as follows: "Gender: refers to the social attributes and opportunities associated with being male and female and the relationships between women and men and girls and boys, as well as the relations between women and those between men. These attributes, opportunities and relationships are socially constructed and are learned through socialization processes. They are context/ time-specific and changeable. Gender determines what is expected, allowed and valued in a women or a man in a given context. In most societies there are differences and inequalities between women and men in responsibilities assigned, activities undertaken, access to and control over resources, as well as decision-making opportunities. Gender is part of the broader socio-cultural context. Other important criteria for socio-cultural analysis include class, race, poverty level, ethnic group and age".
3Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action
, (A/CONF.177/20 and Add 1, 17 October 1995). For Fourth World Conference on Women, see
A/RES/50/42 of 17 January 1996.
Security Council resolution 1325 (2000) on "women and peace and security" (S/RES/1325(2000).
In 1997, ECOSOC defined "mainstreaming a gender perspective" as" the process of assessing the implications for women and men of any planned action, including legislation, policies or programmes in all areas and at all levels. It is a strategy for making women's as well as men's concerns and experiences an integral dimension of the design, implementation, monitoring and evaluation of policies and programmes in all political, economic and societal spheres so that women and men benefit equally and inequality is not perpetuated. The ultimate goal is to achieve gender equality."
The Action Plan is available from http://disarmament.un.org/gender.htm