From 25 November to the 10 December, the United Nations Office for Disarmament Affairs joined UN Women, the Secretary-General’s Say NO –UNiTE to End Violence against Women Campaign and the International Action Network on Small Arms (IANSA) for the 16 Days of Activism Against Gender-Based Violence Campaign 2020.
16 Days of Activism is an annual, worldwide campaign calling for the elimination of all forms of gender-based violence (GBV). Throughout the campaign period, UNODA published over 40 social media posts in English, French and Spanish, joining global efforts to #OrangeTheWorld and raise awareness of how disarmament and arms control can help eliminate GBV, showcasing the wide-ranging nature and relevance of UNODA’s work in addressing GBV.
In particular, the campaign highlighted UNODA’s flagship project working with governments to gender-mainstream small arms control policies and programmes, funded by the European Union, including the activities undertaken by its regional centers in Latin America and the Caribbean, Africa, and Asia and the Pacific.
One such example is the 3-day training conducted by the United Nations Regional Center for Peace and Disarmament in Africa (UNREC) in the Democratic Republic of the Congo with Members of the National Commission for the Control of Small Arms and Light Weapons and the Reduction of Armed Violence (CNC-ALPC), the Ministry of Gender and relevant authorities on gender and small arms, highlighting the discussions undertaken on the urgency to include gender perspectives to reduce armed violence.
Likewise, testimonials from civil society were showcased to raise awareness of the different impact small arms can have on women, men, girls and boys and what efforts have been implemented to address such concerns. Dr. Swarna Rajagopalan, of The Prajnya Trust, stressed gender sensitive gun laws and a culture of safety as key to preventing gun violence in conversation with the United Nations Regional Centre for Peace and Disarmament in Asia and the Pacific (UNRCPD).
During the 16 Days of Action campaign, UNODA provided various resources and other publications on the connection between arms control and violence against women, including “Firearms in Latin American and Caribbean Schools: Approaches, Challenges and Responses” by the United Nations Regional Centre for Peace, Disarmament and Development in Latin America and the Caribbean (UNLIREC), which highlights how some firearms incidents in schools are gender-motivated and explores the approaches, challenges and responses possible to this problem.
“In all its chaos, this moment offers a chance to put gender equality at the core of our peace work and build towards a future that benefits us all. Let’s seize this time to bring about real change.” – Ms. Izumi Nakamitsu, Under-Secretary General and High Representative for Disarmament Affairs and Ambassador Selma Ashipala-Musavyi.
There are numerous ways for governments and organisations to focus their efforts towards addressing the scourge of gender-based violence and for remediating gender inequalities rooted in tools of violence, according to Izumi Nakamitsu, Under-Secretary General and High Representative for Disarmament Affairs, and Ambassador Selma Ashipala-Musavyi, chair of the UN Secretary-General’s Advisory Board on Disarmament Matters. Their recently published joint op-ed “Women share immense stake in ending armed violence”, argues for the full and meaningful participation of women in all fields connected to disarmament, to facilitate partnerships with women’s civil society organisations, and to implement arms control and disarmament policies that address how weapons affect men and women differently.
Overall, UNODA’s 16 Days of Activism Against Gender-Based Violence highlighted the Office’s important contribution towards eliminating GBV and brought attention to the many activities, publications, efforts of civil society, and partnerships with relevant stakeholders devoted to gender-mainstreaming small arms policies and addressing violence against women.
For a comprehensive overview of UNODA’s 16 Days of Activism Against Gender-Based Violence, click here.