by Jasmin Nario-Galace, IANSA Women's Network
The first day of the Review Conference on the UN Programme of Action (UNPoA) on Small Arms and Light Weapons (SALW) saw many states articulating the impact on women of the illicit trade in SALW. Thirty-five percent (35%) of 34 delegations who took the floor on the first day of the conference called either for gender mainstreaming for the effective implementation of the UN PoA or voiced concerns in regard to violence committed against women with SALW as weapons of choice.
Brazil underscored the importance of incorporating a gender perspective in the implementation of the UNPoA. Lithuania, on the other hand, expressed that it is crucial to understand the different ways that men, women and children are affected by armed violence in order to develop effective solutions. Kenya went a step ahead to note that it has already ensured that gender is mainstreamed in all its SALW activities and programs.
Portugal and Kazakhstan particularly called for the increased representation of women in decision-making agencies handling SALW concerns. The United States posited that UNPoA implementation would help prevent gender-based violence if states would make it more difficult for those who would engage in violations of international humanitarian law and international humanitarian rights law to obtain SALW from the illicit market. US also opined that to help reduce gender-based violence, women’s participation in the design and implementation of policies and programs to address illicit SALW trafficking could be enhanced.
The US and Germany made reference to UN Security Council Resolution 1325, with the latter calling for the enhancement of the role of women in the security sector including in the field of small arms control. Both delegations underscored that UNSCR 1325 affirms the important role of women in the prevention and resolution of conflicts and in peacebuilding. Germany urged states to ensure increased representation of women at all decision-making levels in national, regional, and international institutions and argued that they must also participate in mechanisms for the prevention, management, and resolution of conflicts. Germany added that women deserve an increased role in the field of disarmament, demobilization, and reintegration (DDR) and made the important call that this be reflected adequately in the final documents of the UNPoA conference.