This month, the United Nations Office for Disarmament Affairs (UNODA) kicks off a multi-year programme in support of gender mainstreamed policies, programmes and actions in the fight against small arms trafficking and misuse.
Funded by the European Union, the programme will also support the broader international policy agenda on Women, Peace and Security and the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, which place emphasis on gender-equality and women’s empowerment.
Women, men and small arms: Differentiating the impact, use and attitude
To date, the widespread availability of small arms continues to be a key enabler of armed violence, conflict, and terrorism, undermining peace and stability while leading to severe social and economic consequences. At the same time, a growing body of research suggests an increasing linkage between gender and small arms, clearly demonstrating that the use, misuse and effects of such weapons have differentiated impacts on women and men.
UN Secretary-General, António Guterres, identified in his Agenda for Disarmament, Securing Our Common Future, that concerns relating to arms have clear gender dimensions. Thus, he calls on all States to incorporate provisions which are specifically addressing men or women in the development of national legislation and policies on arms control, including consideration of the gendered aspects of ownership, use and misuse of arms; the differentiated impacts of weapons on women and men; and the ways in which the roles of women and men can shape arms control policies and practices.
The UN’s High Representative for Disarmament Affairs, Izumi Nakamitsu, committed UNODA to strive to raise global awareness about these issues. In doing so, she called in recent publications for promoting a diversity of voices in policymaking, for tailoring arms control initiatives to their respective beneficiaries and for the need to address the issue of armed violence against women and girls.
Fostering gender-responsive small arms control
The underlying, deeply societal characteristics of small arms requires an approach that mirrors the diverging perspectives of women and men, girls and boys on weapons.
To foster such an approach, UNODA will implement a three-year programme through a series of activities which includes the establishment of an online training on how to mainstream gender-dimensions into small arms control as well as the development of guidance material on how to translate those dimensions to real actions on the ground.
Through its regional centres, UNODA will collaborate with national small arms commissions and local communities to promote a systematic, gendered approach to small arms and to empower women to take their seats at the decision-making table. Moreover, UNODA will provide training for staff at regional organizations who deal with small arms control policies and programmes and bring together officials working on small arms with those working on the Women, Peace and Security agenda to take forward issues of common interest. Through advocacy and outreach campaigns, UNODA will generate awareness of the importance of the issue thereby ensuring the sustained impact of the programme and its activities.
To enhance the implementation of the programme, UNODA will work in close cooperation with relevant UN entities, in particular with UN Women and its Training Center as well as the South-Eastern and Eastern Europe Clearinghouse for the Control of Small Arms and Light Weapons (UNDP SEESAC). In partnership with the International Action Network on Small Arms (IANSA) and IANSA’s Women’s Network the programme will strengthen civil society engagement on gender-mainstreaming small arms control, which will complement programme activities by extending its reach to the local and community levels.
Further information here