On 12 May 2021, the United Nations Regional Centre for Peace, Disarmament and Development in Latin America and the Caribbean (UNLIREC) and the London-based student initiative SCRAP Weapons held a webinar on ‘Women Implementing Disarmament in Latin America and the Caribbean’. It formed part of the series of webinars that SCRAP Weapons is running from February to the end of May on ‘Feminist Leadership in Disarmament’.

The webinar’s aim was to discuss the role of women in the region in implementing disarmament initiatives by promoting international tools, diplomatic efforts and civil society advocacy. The webinar had a particular focus on issues related to conventional weapons, especially small arms and light weapons, emphasizing their impact on the lives of women and girls.

This issue is relevant to the region given that, according to the Global Study on Homicide from the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), Latin America and the Caribbean has one of the highest homicide rates in the world, 17.2 per 100,000 population, with firearms involved in more than three quarters of these homicides. Similarly, the region also has a high rate of femicide, accounting for 14 of the 25 countries with the highest femicide rates worldwide.

Two students involved in the SCRAP Weapons initiative chaired talks from women working in Latin America and the Caribbean for disarmament, non-proliferation and arms control. In the first talk, UNLIREC presented a historical and contextual overview of the efforts and achievements of women in the region. UNLIREC also discussed the initiatives promoted by the Regional Centre’s work.

Two more talks followed, which focused on the international efforts from women in the region to implement practices, policies, and initiatives for the non-proliferation of conventional weapons. In one of the talks, the president of the Parliamentary Forum on Small Arms and Light Weapons shared her experiences and thoughts on having written the laws on arms control in her country, Uruguay. The other talk featured the cofounder of the Human Security Network in Latin America and the Caribbean (SEHLAC), which is a network formed of representatives from civil society organizations and experts, with an aim to work for Humanitarian Disarmament.
The virtual event, which was open to the public, was attended by more than 50 people, with a large majority of young students interested in these topics.

This initiative forms part of a series of events that the UNLIREC is carrying out to bring disarmament, non-proliferation and arms control issues to young people’s attention, as well as to highlight and celebrate the contributions of women in the region to these issues.

This initiative was made possible thanks to funding from the Canadian government.