The diverse impact of small arms and light weapons (SALW) on women, men, girls and boys has rarely been considered in the formulation of small-arms policy, small-arms collection or control, or even in small-arms research. Understanding of how prolific SALW reinforce and maintain gender- and age-specific violence before, during and after conflict has to improve considerably.
This policy brief examines the connection between guns and gender and discusses methodological challenges and priorities in gendered small-arms research, policy and advocacy. Stereotypes have to give way to an understanding of the multiple roles of both small-arms users and victims, as gender is only one among many social categories defining individuals’ approaches to and experience of small-arms violence. Fortunately, new and encouraging policy initiatives have emerged, although significant gains are yet to be made towards achieving inclusive policy implementation and improving weapons collection programmes; disarmament, demobilization and reintegration (DDR); and security sector reform (SSR) activities.