Protection of civilians: Gender considerations for disarmament, conflict transformation and the establishment of human security

This working paper focusses on the gendered impacts of the proliferation of portable weapons which must be considered in the development of any initiative on disarmament, demobilisation and conflict transformation.

The proliferation of ‘portable weapons’ in any society is a key source of the spread of violence, which impacts on the protection of civilians. Disarmament is therefore central to the protection of civilians. ‘Human security’ needs to be at the heart of any approach to disarmament. The possession of arms as a means of security, defence, brokering power and survival must be replaced by viable and sustainable alternatives. Hence there is the necessity to always consider disarmament, demobilisation, reintegration, transformation and development as linked and interdependent.

The experiences of conflict can in many instances be gender specific. For example, men and boys are the usual ‘carriers’ and ‘users’ of portable weapons and women and girls are often the ‘carers’ for those wounded by these weapons. For the sustainability of disarmament and conflict transformation processes, gender roles need to be considered, both in terms of impact and agency. This requires gender and diversity analysis of the conflict dynamics at a household and community level as well as a macro and national level.