Disarmament is seen as a key means of preventing conflict recurrence. Women are disproportionately affected by weapons: small arms and light weapons used during conflict are often used post-conflict to commit gender-based violence, and explosive weapons in populated areas can severely limit women’s access to public spaces. Women are involved both as part of armed groups, and as the leaders of campaigns against weapons. Despite these experiences, women are routinely excluded from disarmament negotiations. In this brief, we examine three sets of barriers to women’s meaningful participation in disarmament negotiations across five peace processes: Colombia, Nepal, the Philippines, South Sudan and Sri Lanka.
• Women and women’s groups are generally excluded from disarmament negotiations because of the highly masculinized nature of peace talks and talks on weapons specifically.
• The exclusion of women can result from barriers that are conceptual (beliefs and norms related to the participation of women in negotiations), technical (portrayal of women as lacking expertise in issues related to arms) or political (the lack of women holding political positions in the specific country).
• To be inclusive, disarmament negotiations should involve not just those who use weapons, but the broadest possible coalition of conflict-affected parties.
• Third parties can play an important role in the capacity building of women’s groups and in putting pressure on conflict parties to include women in disarmament negotiations.