On 29 March, UNLIREC participated as a panelist in one of the Gender Equality Forum’s thematic sessions on “Crises in achieving gender equality in peace, security and humanitarian action”.

Launched in Mexico last month, the Generation Equality Forum is a global meeting for gender equality. Convened by UN Women and co-chaired by the Governments of Mexico and France, there is also leadership and participation from civil society. The event takes place 25 years after the Fourth World Conference on Women and the adoption of the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action, enabling a review of progress and the creation of a platform that proposes concrete measures to advance gender equality by 2030. The Forum will culminate in France in June 2021.

The Generation Equality Forum promotes, among other actions, the Compact on Women, Peace, Security and Humanitarian Action, designed to foster the implementation of existing commitments. Within this context, the sessions “Crises in achieving gender equality in peace and humanitarian action” were held from 29 to 31 March. The sessions were aimed at enhancing coordination efforts for the implementation of the Women, Peace and Security Agenda, as well as understanding and strengthening links with underlying agendas, such as youth, peace and security; protection of human rights and environmental defenders; disarmament and non-proliferation of small arms; trafficking in small arms and light weapons; mediation and peaceful resolution of conflicts; the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, among others.

During the event, UNLIREC emphasized the need to make connections between the themes of peace, development, security and humanitarian action, as well as the need for platforms enabling spaces of convergence between these themes and all the actors involved in these issues, stressing the key role played by the Generation Equality Forum. The key instruments in enabling this are The United Nations Secretary General’s Disarmament Agenda, the 2030 Agenda and its Sustainable Development Goals and, on issues of women’s participation in disarmament, nuclear non-proliferation and arms control, the United Nations Assembly Resolution 65/69.

UNLIREC also highlighted the issue of arms control as central to all development issues, impacting all the Sustainable Development Goals, including gender equality, health, education, economy, among others.

Needless to say, well-established arms control measures enable more opportunities to promote sustainable development. Disarmament and small arms control not only contribute to significantly reducing all forms of violence and related death rates worldwide, but also to eliminating all forms of violence against all women and girls in the public and private spheres. Small arms, besides being used to commit femicide, are also a tool to exercise control and subjugation through threats, causing psychological damage to the victims.

Other panelists made special reference to the increase of domestic violence during the COVID-19 confinement and the need to offer a comprehensive approach to victims (psychological support, shelter, education, work opportunities).

UNLIREC notes the importance of raising awareness of firearms in violence against women and to include initiatives aimed at firearms control both in the urgent responses that are being implemented in the context of the pandemic, as well as in other strategies.

UNLIREC also notes the need for more female representation on such matters, particularly in key decision-making roles.

The initial phase of the Generation Equality Forum in March also served as a platform to launch a series of “Action Coalitions” aimed at driving investment and delivering tangible results for gender equality during the UN Decade of Action (2020-2030). These Action Coalitions are focused on 6 themes, including gender-based violence; economic justice and rights; bodily autonomy; sexual and reproductive health and rights; feminist action for climate justice; technology and innovation for gender equality; and feminist movements and leadership.