Today, on International Day Against Violence Against Women, we pay attention to the importance of gender equality in achieving lasting peace. Over a billion small and light weapons circulate around the world. The presence of firearms is clearly increasing levels of violence against women - both inside and outside armed conflicts. We demand more measures to prevent the uncontrolled spread of weapons in order to increase women's security and enable women to participate in society. It is written by Malin Nilsson, Secretary General of the International Women's Union for Peace and Freedom, and Karin Olofsson, Secretary General of the Parliamentary Forum for Light Weapons Issues.
Every day, an average of 257 women are murdered worldwide. Of these, almost killed 50 women of firearms, which means that a woman dies every half hour as a result of armed violence. In 2018 was murdered 93 women worldwide, over 700 of them by force caused by small and light weapons. During the pandemic, the situation has worsened as the number of reported cases of violence against women in the home has increased by up to 30 percent, there the presence of firearms further jeopardizes women's safety and rights.
The widespread violence against women in the world, combined with armed conflict, underlines the need to prioritize preventive action against the uncontrolled proliferation of small arms and light weapons in order to promote human security and lasting peace. Over one billion of these weapons circulates globally, the majority of which, 85 percent, are in civilian hands and kill 223 people every year. A large proportion of these weapons are illegal.
Several studies confirms that the existence of weapons, both in and outside conflict environments, has a clear link to increased levels of gender-based violence, including sexual violence, against women, where violence becomes both more brutal and more deadly. According to a study five times the risk of a woman who is subjected to domestic violence being murdered if there is a firearm in the home. Men are also affected to a large extent by gun violence and make up a large proportion of the deaths, but above all, almost all perpetrators are men.
The widespread violence against women around the world is an obstacle to equality, human security and lasting peace. The countries of the world have committed themselves to working for gender equality and a total abolition of violence against women, including through Agenda 2030 and the UN Convention on the Rights of Women. Preventing the uncontrolled spread of small arms and light weapons is a prerequisite for preventing violence against women.
Governments are responsible for the implementation of international agreements such as Agenda 2030 nationally. As elected representatives, parliamentarians have a role to play in preventing and preventing the proliferation of weapons and violence against women, through their scrutiny of the government and its legislative and opinion-forming functions. Therefore, it is particularly worrying that the number reported threats, violations and violence against parliamentarians are increasing, where women parliamentarians are particularly vulnerable. In addition to violence, there is a risk that women politicians will be exposed to threats on the internet 27 times higher than for male colleagues. Threats and violence against women parliamentarians risk silencing political voices and constitute a barrier to women's political participation, which in turn undermines equality and democracy.
Women are not only victims of armed violence, but also important actors in the work for sustainable peace and human security. As stated in UN Security Council Resolution 1325 on women, peace and security, conflict prevention and peace-promoting processes will be more sustainable if women are active participants. In addition, indicates a report from the UN that increased equality in society is accompanied by reduced levels of violence in close relationships - while societies with a lack of equality tend to be characterized by higher levels of violence against women, including lethal violence.
Immediate action is needed to prevent the proliferation of illegal weapons and to reduce armed violence. International instruments are already in place, such as Agenda 2030, the UN Arms Trade Treaty, UN Security Council Resolution 1325, the UN Convention on the Rights of Women and the UN Program of Action to prevent, combat and eradicate all forms of illicit trade in small arms and light weapons.
For these to have the desired effect on peace, sustainable development and human security, all countries must adhere to the agreements and ensure their implementation. Here, parliamentarians have an important role to play in working for ratification and, together with civil society, monitoring and pushing for the agreements to be implemented effectively.
That is why it is important to invest in parliamentary institutions and organizations in order to strengthen the capacity of parliamentarians to work with the links between uncontrolled proliferation of weapons in society, gender equality and violence against women. Equally important are collaborations between parliamentarians and civil society, which can offer specific expertise on women, peace and security, and independent analyzes for improved measures to prevent armed violence and uncontrolled proliferation.
For every woman's safety, rights and well-being, in Sweden and the world, it is important to prevent access to illegal small and light weapons. Together we can contribute to change and to more equal, peaceful and sustainably developed societies.