On 8 December 2021, the United Nations Regional Centre for Peace, Disarmament and Development in Latin America and the Caribbean (UNLIREC) held the Symposium ‘Female Forces for Change’ to celebrate the 11th anniversary of the General Assembly Resolution 65/69 on Women, Disarmament, Non-Proliferation and Arms Control, which urges State Parties, regional and sub-regional organisations, the United Nations, its agencies and programmes, to promote the equal representation of women in all decision-making processes related to these issues.

The Symposium’s objective was to raise awareness and celebrate the contribution of women in the region. Eight women from different countries and diverse backgrounds in the field shared their experiences in line with the four pillars of the United Nation’s Secretary General’s Agenda for Disarmament “Securing our common future”.

Pillar 1, ‘Disarmament to save humanity’, which advocates to reduce and eliminate weapons of mass destruction, featured María Antonieta Jáquez (Mexico), Political Coordinator of the Permanent Mission of Mexico to the United Nations, and Soledad Urruela Arenales (Guatemala), Programme Manager and Regional Coordinator for the implementation of UN Security Council Resolution 1540.

Pillar 2 “Disarmament to save lives”, which calls for reducing and mitigating the impact of conventional weapons, was represented by two government officials with responsibilities in the control and regulation of small arms and light weapons. They are María del Pilar Noriega López (Peru), General Manager of the National Superintendence for the Control of Security Services, Arms, Ammunition and Explosives for Civilian Use (SUCAMEC) and Samantha Allen (Jamaica), Executive Director, Safety, Security and Small Arms Unit, Ministry of National Security.

Pillar 3 “Disarmament to save future generations”, which calls for vigilance regarding new and emerging weapons technologies, featured María Pía Devoto (Argentina), Coordinator of the Human Security Network of Latin America and the Caribbean (SEHLAC) and member of the Stop Killer Robots Campaign, and Hazel Villalobos (Costa Rica), Technical Manager and Researcher at the Foundation for Peace and Democracy (FUNDAPEM).

Finally, Pillar 4, “Strengthening Partnerships for Disarmament”, is a call to revitalise disarmament institutions and partner with governments, civil society, women and youth. It was represented by Carolina de Mattos Ricardo (Brazil), Executive Director of Sou da Paz and Delia Chatoor (Trinidad and Tobago), an expert in International Humanitarian Law, former diplomat and former Vice President of the Trinidad and Tobago Red Cross Society.

In addition to celebrating the contribution of these women, the event served as a platform to officially launch the audio visual material produced by UNLIREC to support the dissemination of the important progress achieved by women in the region in the four Pillars that make up the Disarmament Agenda.  Eighty three persons from across the region attended the Symposium, with 80% of the audience being women.

The event was part of the Project “Advancing Regional Implementation of UN General Assembly Resolution 65/69 on Women, Disarmament, Non-Proliferation and Arms Control”, funded by the Government of Canada.