On 7 July 2020, the United Nations Regional Centre for Peace, Disarmament and Development in Latin America and the Caribbean (UNLIREC) carried out its first regional webinar on how small arms control can help to prevent violence against women in the time of COVID-19 in Latin America and the Caribbean.

UNLIREC launched the webinar by explaining the context of the impact of small arms on violence against women (VAW), with particular emphasis on the negative impact that COVID-19 confinement measures are having on dramatic increases in domestic violence. Two expert panelists also presented the national perspectives of Argentina (academy) and Mexico (National Institute for Women) regarding VAW in the context of COVID-19 and the connections to firearms, as well as existing public policies to address the problem.

The webinar concluded with an overall description of the findings and recommendations found in a UNLIREC-led research initiative. The research identified national small arms control measures adopted in the Latin American and Caribbean region during the COVID-19 pandemic that could have an impact on the prevention and eradication of VAW. In other words, on the one hand, how to include arms control in strategies to prevent, address and eradicate VAW, and, on the other hand, how to incorporate a gender perspective into firearms control and regulations measures.

220 people from 23 different countries registered for the webinar, including representatives from different public sectors (foreign affairs, defence, security, education, women’s organizations), as well as academic organizations, from civil society in the Latin American and Caribbean region, and from UN agencies.

Participants highlighted the importance of participating in such regional meetings to address the link between firearms control and VAW . In that regard, it is important to note that the activity was part of the gender and arms control programme (funded by Canada, the European Union and Sweden) and that – due to the wide interest generated thanks to this webinar – UNLIREC will continue to carry out similar webinars at the national level.