On International Mine Awareness Day, UN Women Executive Director Michelle Bachelet participated in the “Lend Your Leg” initiative to sensitize world leaders as well as people around the world to join the UN Mine Actions Service (UNMAS) campaign to prevent deadly weapons from causing indiscriminate harm to civilians. In contemporary conflicts, as much as 90 per cent of casualties are civilians, mostly women and children.
UNMAS provides assistance for the care, rehabilitation and the socio-economic reintegration of mine victims. Landmines and explosive remnants of war affect more than 70 countries worldwide. Significant progress on the issue has brought down earlier estimates of more than 20,000 casualties per year, to 5,200 recorded casualties in 2008. However, mines and explosives continue to pose a significant threat to the lives, well-being and socio-economic development of individuals and communities.
The impact of wars is often the worst for women. From casualties of explosives to mass rapes and displacements, they are often at the forefronts of wars. They are also impacted most adversely by infrastructure breakdowns, as they struggle to keep families together and care for the wounded members of their families and communities.
UN Women studies show that since 1992, less than 10 per cent of peace negotiators have been women and less than 6 per cent of reconstruction budgets specifically provide for the needs of women and girls. In the aftermath, it is women, however, who bring families, homes and communities back together. Yet both their roles and rights continue to be overlooked at peace talks and in peacebuilding.
One of UN Women’s central priorities is to increase women’s leadership and participation in peace and security and humanitarian response. Efforts include supporting women activists in conflict and post-conflict countries to be at the tables where decisions about peacebuilding and their futures are made.
In 2010, the UN system adopted a Seven-Point Action Plan on Gender-Responsive Peacebuilding, ensuring women’s participation in peace processes and post-conflict governance, including through the use of special measures such as affirmative action, preferential treatment and quota-based systems, as well as equal involvement in disarmament, demobilization and reintegration programmes.
In 2000, the adoption of UN Security Council resolution 1325 on women, peace and security aided efforts to ensure gender sensitivity in post-conflict scenarios, including mine action, by emphasizing “the need for all parties to ensure that demining and mine awareness programmes take into account the special needs of women and girls.”
To learn more about the “Lend Your Leg” campaign, visit the website.