EU, GIZ & ECOWAS CALL FOR MAINSTREAMING GENDER IN SMALL ARMS AND LIGHT WEAPONS CONTROL PROCESS

By Edward Vamboi

As part of their move to develop a clearly defined and articulated strategy to mainstream gender into Small Arms and Light Weapons control processes in the country, the European Union, GIZ, and ECOWAS has on Monday 12th April, 2021 supported the Women’s Forum on Mainstreaming Gender in Small Arms and Light Weapons.

Control Processes in the country under the Organized Crime West Africa Response to Trafficking (OCWAR-T), which is an ECOWAS project, co-founded by the EU and the GFFO, coordinated by GIZ and implemented by UNDP in collaboration with the National Commission on Small Arms and Light Weapons.

The one day engagement with Women in CSOs, the media and Government spheres to create a space for advocacy on Small Arms and Light Weapons (SALW) advocacy in all programming through an action plan was held at Hill Valley Hotel in Freetown.

In her opening remarks, the Coordinator of Sierra Leone Network of Small Arms, Adenike Cole, underscored that the gathering is geared towards discussing concrete ideas on how women can promote or support Small Arms and Light Weapons Control processes in the country. She went further to outline some of the issues around the proliferation of small arms and light weapons saying once such happens it affects the citizens.

She furthered how the assembly was conducted to clearly define and articulate strategies to mainstream gender into small arms and light weapons control processes in Sierra Leone saying that most times the topic is considered to be a masculine affair.

Adenike Cole disclosed that when there are issues of proliferation of small arms women suffer the most and because of that they are present to discuss and share experiences and proffer recommendations on how they can move forward.

In her concluding statement, the Coordinator said Civil Society Organizations, the media, representatives from the Government should be there to create some space of advocacy on small arms and light weapons control or to mainstream it in all programming through an action plan so that at the end of the day they will be able to promote social coalition.

Rtd. Brig. Gen Tamba Alieu, Commissioner for Small Arms and Light Weapons informed the gathering that generally mainstreaming gender process is understood to be the process of assessing the implications on women and men of any planned action including legislation, policies or programs in all areas and at all levels with a view to promoting gender equality.

Rtd. Brig. Gen Tamba Alieu further disclosed that due to the widespread availability, mobility and the ease of the use of small arms and light weapons such has become a central concern relating to security and crime.

He noted that many surveys have registered increasing physical human right abuses or violations with the use of small arms and light weapons around the world, adding that according to national data in the country many women, girls and boys continue to be victims of small arms and light weapons as well as domestic violence.

Rtd. Brig. Gen Tamba Alieu maintained that the worse condition is that small arms and light weapons are misused within domestic settings which adds considerable impact on the communities without regard to sex or age furthering that the uncontrolled presence of small arms and light weapons in some communities in the country with its attendant consequences is worrisome for national security.

He pointed out that over the years they saw the sociological trauma associated with the misuse of small arms and light weapons and their impact on social coalition and family safety which equally affects women more than men because of their roles in society and the family.

The Commissioner concluded that research on small arms and light weapons, in relation to gender mainstreaming, in this case, shows that women and girls are mostly disadvantaged and are the victims, underscoring that many gender surveys conducted in Sierra Leone revealed that over 90% of women are worried about the use of small arms and light weapons to perpetrate sexual violence against them, while by the same rating is below 10% for men.

UNDP Representative, Kadi Jumu Peters, revealed that the Organized Crime West Africa Response to Trafficking (OCWAR-T), is an ECOWAS project, co-founded by the EU and the GFFO, coordinated by GIZ and implemented by UNDP in collaboration with the National Commission on Small Arms and Light Weapons.

She added that UNDP has been coordinating the project since its inception known as the ECOWAS, EU Small Arms Project, stating that as part of the project the UNDP has played an implementation role by assisting ECOWAS in facilitating the implementation of all activities ranging from awareness raising on small arms and light weapons , capacity building on the collection of illegal weapons to board communities replacing weapons collected with development items that will benefit the communities or serve as alternative livelihood mechanisms.

She noted that in October 2020 the Project, through its implementation, provided motor bikes to communities in Falaba district and Sulaima Chiefdom as part of the project’s objectives for development initiatives.

According to her, UNDP, with the support of the EU and GIZ, equally facilitated the construction of two community boreholes in Kailahun District and four boreholes in Falaba District.

Kadi Jumu Peter disclosed that the project has also achieved about 80% in capacity building of the Commission following UNDP and ECOWAS facilitated capacity building trainings conducted in 2017 to date, adding that Sierra Leone has also been referred to as a success story when it comes to post country reconstruction development and that countries like Liberia and Benin etc. are referring to the Commission when it comes to policy progress in mitigating the spread of Small Arms and Light Weapons which she said the country should be proud of and that the country also need to do more.

She disclosed that mainstreaming gender into the Small Arms and Light Weapons control process is vital for a more inclusive, effective and sustainable programming to control its proliferation.

Courtesy of the Calabash 14 April 2021

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