Gender equality is not only a moral imperative and fundamental human right, but also a powerful tool for accelerating progress in all areas of the United Nations’ work, including peace and security. Strengthening the role of women and diversity of voices in disarmament will advance our collective goals in disarmament, non-proliferation and arms control
In the year leading up to the twentieth anniversary of Security Council resolution 1325 (2000) on women, peace and security, a growing number of Member States demonstrated interest and support in promoting the inclusion of gender perspectives in disarmament and arms control processes in order to achieve more sustainable and effective outcomes.
Women remained significantly underrepresented in multilateral disarmament forums and decision-making during the year, according to findings by the United Nations Institute for Disarmament Research. Calls for women’s full and equal participation increased, as did the understanding that women’s participation needs to be meaningful. The General Assembly prioritized women’s equal participation in multiple contexts, including for the first time in ammunition management policy, in the framework of the Convention on the Prohibition of the Development, Production and Stockpiling of Bacteriological (Biological) and Toxin Weapons and on Their Destruction (Biological Weapons Convention) and for the groups of governmental experts on nuclear disarmament verification. Women’s participation was also prioritized across the world in relevant trainings, courses and other activities, contributing towards gender equality and women’s empowerment in the field of disarmament, non-proliferation and arms control.
While gender considerations were featured prominently in multilateral small arms control processes and forums, there was increased recognition that additional in-depth research and policymaking efforts were necessary to ensure gender-responsive approaches to addressing weapons of mass destruction and new and emerging technologies. That growing recognition was informed, in part, by a growing awareness of the differential impacts of weapons on women, men, girls and boys.
In 2019, new projects, capacity-building measures, and initiatives were implemented at the community, national and regional levels to support gender- responsive commitments, including in the fight against small-arms trafficking and misuse; armed-violence reduction; disarmament, demobilization and reintegration; security sector reform; and mine action. Member States strengthened the formal recognition of linkages between arms control and the prevention of gender-based violence, including through resolutions of the General Assembly and Human Rights Council, and they expressed support for national arms control efforts aimed at preventing such violence. At the fifth Conference of States Parties to the Arms Trade Treaty, where gender and gender-based violence were the thematic priority, participants agreed on recommendations and actions to, inter alia, improve the gender balance in future conferences and promote an increased understanding of the gendered impact of armed violence in the context of the Treaty.
Meanwhile, various stakeholders made efforts throughout the year to promote a systematic gendered approach in the area of disarmament. Member States and the United Nations Institute for Disarmament Research organized a number of events to that end, including in the frameworks of the Biological Weapons Convention and the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons. In an op-ed written for the online magazine Europe’s World, the High Representative for Disarmament Affairs called for gender to be placed “at the heart of arms policy”, and the International Gender Champions Disarmament Impact Group issued new resources on the relevance of gender perspectives to the field as a whole.
The United Nations system also undertook further efforts to achieve the equal participation of women and men in disarmament processes and to address the gendered impacts of arms. The seventy-fourth session of the General Assembly First Committee adopted 17 resolutions containing references to equal gender representation or participation, gender considerations, the gendered impact of weapons or gender-based violence. Of those resolutions, four contained such language for the first time. In addition, a range of entities within the United Nations system implemented gender-sensitive approaches and trainings within disarmament-related areas of work