From 26 February to 9 March 2008, the Commission on the Status of Women (CSW) was held at United Nations Headquarters in New York. One of the themes for the Commission was ‘Women’s equal participation in conflict prevention, management and conflict resolution and in post-conflict peacebuilding'.
IANSA Women’s Network members were involved in a wide range of NGO side events, including 'The Impact of Guns on Women's Lives', a joint seminar between the UN Office for Disarmament Affairs and IANSA on 3 March 2008.
In a lively, well attended session chaired by WN coordinator Sarah Masters, Professor Wendy Cukier introduced the issue with an overview of research and statistics. "The IANSA Women’s Network seeks to bring women into the conversations about small arms, and to bring small arms into the conversations about women’s rights. The Women’s Network is one of the most dynamic parts of IANSA." Sarah Masters, IANSA Women's Network Coordinator
Marie-Claire Ruhamya from Solidarity of the Women of Burhale (SOFEBU) described how the flood of guns into the Democratic Republic of Congo facilitates mass rape and violence against women during and after the war. "The bodies of Congolese women have been used as a battle ground. Rape is used as a weapon to intimidate, terrorize and eliminate whole communities. Where is the conscience of the arms trade? Why sell so many weapons to a country where the poverty is beyond comprehension?" Marie Claire Ruhamya, SOFEBU, DRC.
Widad Akrawi of Defend International spoke about the need to challenge the link between masculinity and guns in the Middle East.
Maria Pia Devoto from the Asociación para Políticas cited the gun buyback in Argentina as an example of women's involvement in disarmament.
Binalakshmi Nepram of Control Arms Foundation in India spoke about women’s role in stopping gun violence.
Daniël Prins, Chief, Conventional Arms Branch, UN Office for Disarmament Affairs spoke about UN action on the illicit trade in small arms from a gender perspective.
Other events included:
Ema Tagicakibau from the Pacific Concerns Resource Centre (Fiji) spoke at the panel on ‘The effects of war on women and children’. "Unarmed women used the only arms they had - their moral authority as mothers, wives, sisters, aunts, grandmothers." Ema Tagicakibau, Pacific Concerns Resource Centre, Fiji
Marie Claire Ruhamya was a guest speaker at ‘Women in Conflict Zones’ organised by the International Women’s Program of the Open Society Institute.
Maria Pia Devoto, Binalakshmi Nepram and Marie Louise Pambu were expert witnesses on SCR 1325 during ‘Peacebuilding - is it a woman's job?’sponsored by the Permanent Mission of the UK to the UN.
The film ‘The story of the Manipuri Women Gun Survivors’ was premiered during the ‘Town Hall Meeting: An Open Dialogue on 1325’. Binalakshmi Nepram, a founder of the Manipuri network also participated in the roundtable. The film was made with support from the IANSA Women's Network.
Marie Louise Pambu gave a powerful first-hand account of being widowed during ‘The role of widows in sustainable prosperity’ organised by Widows Rights International.
The West Africa Network for Peacebuilding (WANEP) participated in "Getting Some Action - The role of NGOs in implementing SCR 1325." Discussions included the development of National Action Plans on 1325. WANEP also organised "Women’s empowerment, the key to women's equal participation in conflict prevention and in post-conflict peacebuilding" focussing on experiences in West Africa.