Between 19-23 March 2012 UN Member States met to prepare for the Review Conference of the Programme of Action on Small Arms (PoA), to be held in August 2012. IANSA Women were present at the meeting in New York, actively lobbying for gender mainstreaming in the PoA, and we were heartened to witness significant progress on this issue.

UN Security Council Resolution 1325 (2000) recognises the active role that women can play in peace processes and as advocates, and it binds Member States to ensure women’s full participation accordingly. It has also proven to be a decisive mandate for the field of small arms control policy and practice, to include women in decision-making and take gender issues into account, as the issue of small arms control is relevant to conflict prevention, conflict resolution, peacekeeping, and peacebuilding. Meetings to discuss the UN Programme of Action on Small Arms (PoA) provide opportunities for women to participate in decisions on such issues.

The meeting was opened by Ms Angela Kane, newly appointed High Representative for Disarmament Affairs. Ambassador Joy Ogwu of Nigeria was elected as Chairperson of the meeting and Chair Designate for the Review Conference on the PoA. Her draft indicative non-papers, released prior to the meeting, refer to UNSCR 1325 and the role of women in DDR processes. They are available here.

A number of Member States and regional organisations have made statements in favour of women’s participation and gender mainstreaming. Some have made the explicit link to UNSCR 1325, including the USA and Germany, and have highlighted the important role of women in the PoA’s implementation. Germany stated that, “women are generally as much affected by armed conflict as men. UN Security Council Resolution 1325 (2000) urges states to ensure increased representation of women at all decision-making levels in the security sector. Women play a particularly important role in any process of Disarmament, Demobilisation and Reintegration. We believe the Review Conference should take the opportunity to make a reference to UNSCR 1325, urging states to enhance the integration of women in decision-making processes in the security sector.”

The European Union highlighted “the importance of ensuring increased representation of women at all decision-making levels in security sector institutions dealing with SALW-related issues and the specific link between PoA and Security Council Resolution 1325.” For the Netherlands, Norway and New Zealand, among others, the role of women in UNPoA implementation is important and their participation should be enhanced at all decision-making levels. Argentina expressed their hope that the PoA would fully take the gender perspective of gun violence into account. Côte d’Ivoire also highlighted the importance of gender mainstreaming in the implementation of the PoA. Others, such as Kazakhstan and Switzerland emphasised the impact of small arms on women.

Cuba made link between gun trafficking and human trafficking. This link is important, as most of the victims of human trafficking are women and girls, trafficked on the same routes where SALW and drugs flow. These links and the need for a gender-responsive policy to respond accordingly are further detailed in the IANSA Women’s Network paper on Mainstreaming Gender in the UNPoA available here.

All statements, including those made by Member States and NGOs, are available here.

Based on the list of participants provided at the Preparatory Committee (PrepCom) of the PoA Review Conference in New York on 19-23 March 2012, 77 of 357 delegates listed were women. That was 21.5% of the total, a slight increase of the percentage of women who participated in the ATT PrepCom in February (20%).

A total of 102 UN Member States are participating in the PoA PrepCom. 53 of these have women in their delegations. That means 52% of States sent women delegates. Those are: Argentina, Armenia, Australia, Bahamas, Barbados, Belgium, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Brazil, Bulgaria, China, Costa Rica, Cuba, Cyprus, Djibouti, Dominican Republic, El Salvador, Finland, France, Gabon, Grenada, Guyana, Honduras, India, Ireland, Jamaica, Kazakhstan, Kenya, Lesotho, Lithuania, Madagascar, Mexico, Montenegro, Netherlands, Nigeria, Republic of Moldova, Romania, Russian Federation, Saint Lucia, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Serbia, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Thailand, The former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Tunisia, Turkey, Uganda, United Arab Emirates, United Republic of Tanzania, USA, Uruguay, Vietnam and Zambia.

10 Member States have a woman’s name at the top of the list their delegations’ members. These are Bahamas, Brazil, Djibouti, Grenada, Honduras, Kazakhstan, Nigeria, Romania, Slovenia and Zambia. That’s 10% of the total.

30 delegations are composed of 50% or more women, out of which, 18 delegations have 50% women: Argentina, Armenia, Barbados, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Cyprus, Djibouti, France, India, Jamaica, Lesotho, Madagascar, Netherlands, Republic of Moldova, Romania, Serbia, Slovakia, United Republic of Tanzania and Zambia. In 12 delegations, there are more women than men: Australia, Bahamas, China, Costa Rica, Grenada, Guyana, Honduras, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Slovenia, Spain, Tunisia, Uruguay.

Much more still needs to be done to include women’s voices and perspectives and mainstream gender in the UN Programme of Action. Nevertheless, the growing recognition of the crucial role women play in the implementation of the PoA, of the links between UNSCR 1325 and the PoA, as well as of the gendered nature of gun violence, shows that our voices are finally being heard.

The Guidelines for gender mainstreaming for the effective implementation of the UN PoA (A/CONF.192/2006/RC/CRP.3) are available at:

For more information on the links between UNSCR 1325 and the UNPoA, see:

Joined-Up Thinking: International Measures for Women’s Security and SALW Control
By Cynthia Dehesa and Sarah Masters