International Women’s Day: WILPF on Gender and disarmament
The Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom (WILPF) raised crucial gender and disarmament themes in its annual statement to the Conference on Disarmament (CD), delivered for 2015’s International Women’s Day.
WILPF noted how gender shapes the role and impact of weapons and violence on societies, and that violence impacts men and women differently because of socially constructed gender roles. Though the majority of gender-based violence is inflicted by men on women, both women and men face gender-based violence. In the 2014 paper ‘Sex and Drone Strikes‘, Article 36 and Reaching Critical Will of WILPF explored how maleness is being used as a signifier to designate people as militants in drone strike targeting decisions and post-strike analysis of casualties. This constitutes a form of gender-based violence and has many broader, troubling implications. Among these, such practices reinforce the expectation that men are violent and perpetuate the ideas of “innocent civilians” as women, children and the elderly – though men and adolescent boys tend to be the most frequent direct victims of armed violence. This was an issue WILPF remarked upon in their CD statement this year.
WILPF also observed how the framing of women as in need of protection continues to serve to exclude them from key roles in social and political processes. This is despite progress including UN Security Council resolution 1325 on women, peace and security which aims to increase women’s participation. To stand alongside and complement other policies aimed at reducing gender discrimination in global policymaking, Article 36 and our partners last year launched the Stop Man Panels initiative, calling for a rejection of all-male panels. Though not the solution to gender discrimination, it aims to gives men the opportunity to recognise the power and status that they have and benefit from, and allows them to help redress part of this power imbalance by promoting gender diversity and rejecting participation in all-male events.
WILPF’s also announced in their statement that they would not be engaging with the CD unless it begins a programme of work again in the future. The CD has not had a programme of work since the conclusion of negotiations on the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty in 1996, leading to widespread criticism of its effectiveness as a forum. In its current session the CD had discussed a proposal to increase civil society access and engagement. CD members could not in the end agree on the proposal, and WILPF noted the sexist and degrading remarks about civil society made at the forum in the context of this debate.
Overview on gender and disarmament from Reaching Critical Will of WILPF
Report of WILPF’s International Women’s Day seminar on a gender perspective on disarmament
Briefing Paper: Article 36 and Reaching Critical Will of WILPF
Stop Man Panels initiative: against gender discrimination in global policymaking