A new approach to disarmament should recognize and address the gendered impact of different weapon types and systems and the impact certain weapons have on the prevalence of gender-based violence. It should underscore that ensuring the equal, full and effective participation of women in all decision-making processes related to disarmament is essential for the promotion and attainment of sustainable peace and security.
Developments and trends, 2020
In 2020, the world marked major anniversaries for three key contributions to gender equality and women’s participation in disarmament: 20 years since the adoption of Security Council resolution 1325 (2000) on women, peace and security; 10 years since the General Assembly adopted resolution 65/69 on women, disarmament, non-proliferation and arms control; and 25 years since the adoption of the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action, following the fourth World Conference on Women.
However, public health restrictions during the COVID-19 pandemic limited the opportunities to discuss linkages between gender equality and disarmament. Meanwhile, as Governments around the world imposed stay-at-home orders in response to the pandemic, the Secretary-General called for action to address a “horrifying global surge in domestic violence” directed towards women and girls, underscoring the urgency of efforts to utilize arms control as a means of reducing gender-based violence.
In that context, the international community sought to continue promoting women’s leadership and full and effective participation in disarmament processes, including virtual meetings. It also endeavoured to strengthen analysis and approaches aimed at advancing the role of gender-responsive disarmament in pursuing sustainable peace and security for all.
The Office for Disarmament Affairs continued throughout the year to integrate gender considerations into all its activities, while also undertaking targeted initiatives to help Member States integrate gender perspectives and elements of the women, peace and security agenda into their disarmament and arms control activities. In that regard, the Office achieved further progress in its flagship project on gender and small arms and light weapons. In addition, it continued to promote and monitor progress towards the equal, full and effective participation of women in disarmament forums, a prerequisite to tackling new global challenges and to fully exploring how gender intersects with other identities that risk leading to exclusion in the field of disarmament. The Office also undertook a study on disability, disarmament and arms control, laying the groundwork for an internal action plan on disability inclusion.
The United Nations Institute for Disarmament Research (UNIDIR) took a lead role in raising awareness and pursuing policy-relevant research about the gender dimensions of disarmament, including impacts of weapons use that differ by gender, as well as the enduring gender imbalance in multilateral disarmament forums. Through its dedicated gender and disarmament programme, established in 2018 to help diplomats apply a gender lens to their work on disarmament, UNIDIR produced research and proposed practical ideas to further incorporate gender considerations in specific processes for arms control, building on existing expertise in the disarmament field. In 2020, the Institute’s work under the programme included briefings on gender for attendees of important disarmament- related meetings, including a regional workshop in Uganda, tailored to national practitioners from African countries. In addition, UNIDIR produced resources on key topics in arms control and disarmament, while also continuing to regularly update its gender and disarmament online resource hub. In 2020, the online hub attracted 1,634 views per month on average.
Additionally, the Geneva-based International Gender Champions Disarmament Impact Group continued to promote gender perspectives in disarmament. Working with UNIDIR, the Group launched an updated version of the Gender and Disarmament Resource Pack for Multilateral Practitioners, a publication covering the relevance of gender perspectives to arms control, non-proliferation and disarmament, as well as practical ideas for diplomats to apply a gender lens to their work. (For more information on the UNIDIR gender and disarmament programme, see chap. VIII.)