Women should play a larger role in national policies controlling guns, a UN conference decided today.
The 5th Biennial Meeting on States on Small Arms (BMS5) has adopted a document committing all UN members to promote women’s participation in policy, planning and projects related to guns.
The International Action Network on Small Arms, which represents human rights and peace groups at the conference, welcomes the commitment. IANSA has been lobbying since 2001 for women to be recognized in the UN deliberations on “small arms and light weapons”.
“Most countries’ policies on guns have do not take into account the experiences and views of women,” said Jasmin Nario Galace of the IANSA Women’s Network. “For example, most countries do not prevent domestic violence offenders from owning guns. This decision helps us to push for policies more in line with the interests of communities.”
Many governments expressed disappointment that ammunition was not covered in the international agreement on small arms control. A few countries, including USA and Egypt, blocked agreement on this point.
Another omission was assistance to survivors of gun violence, which Latin American countries such as Guatemala and Mexico tried unsuccessfully to incorporate into the outcome document.
The most memorable moment in the conference was the speech by the father of a child killed in the Sandy Hook school massacre in 2012. David Wheeler, father of 6-year-old Ben who was murdered with 19 of his classmates, brought the diplomats to tears as he spoke of his son and called on the UN to help stop such tragedies from recurring.
Although IANSA members welcomed the outcome document, they warned that more needs to be done to reduce the flood of guns which is killing 1 person every minute. IANSA Chair Baffour Amoa said, “The real test is not in the conference rooms. It’s whether the governments take the actions necessary on the ground to stop the killing. The NGOs stand ready to assist in these efforts.”
IANSA is the global movement against gun violence – an international network of hundreds of civil society groups.