You can help stop gender-based armed violence in the Pacific
When Pacific governments ignore the gendered nature of arms and security, women’s needs are ignored and women are excluded from decision-making around arms and security. Every minute someone dies of armed violence and women are disproportionately affected by gender-based violence such as domestic violence and rape.
Women’s experiences of armed violence in the Pacific, which have often related to violence in the private sphere, differ significantly from that of men. However, traditionally policies on arms control and security have failed to adequately recognise and incorporate gendered perspectives. This is because arms and security have been viewed as state-centric concepts framed within national security, military security and the institutions of central government.
Despite their integral role in arms control and security at local levels, women have largely been excluded from formal decision-making processes on these matters. If efforts to tackle armed violence in the Pacific are to adequately address the concerns of all members of society, it is critical that arms and security policies and practices, fully mainstream gender and address human security concerns. These efforts must also ensure that women and men have equal opportunities to actively participate in articulating their security needs, in formulating arms and security policy, as well as participating in the provision of that security.
Women in Bougainville, Papua New Guinea, negotiated with armed actors to get them to lay down their arms at significant risk to their own lives. Likewise, women in Fiji after the 2000 coup organised peace and prayer vigils.
Despite this, women have often been excluded from formal processes related to disarmament, arms control, peace building and conflict prevention. This is compounded by women in the Pacific having the lowest global rate of participation in national legislatures: they make up only 4% of legislators compared to 21% globally.
A new report launched today by the Pacific Small Arms Action Group — a network of civil society activists throughout the Pacific region including Oxfam — entitled Arms, Security and Gender in the Pacific details how Pacific governments can more effectively address this important issue.
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How you can help
Read the Pacific Small Arms Action Group’s new report, Arms, Security and Gender in the Pacific. You can support the report by sharing it on Facebook or twitter with the hashtag #16days.