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Gendered impacts of Small Arms and Light Weapons proliferation

Young boy plays with toy soldiers

The proliferation of Small Arms and Light Weapons (SALW) is recognized as an obstacle to development. In addition to facilitating criminal and armed violence, SALW are used to facilitate sexual and gender-based violence and to reinforce violent, gendered social norms. Existing research demonstrates that notions of masculinity are often linked to the possession of weapons.

The Arms Trade Treaty reflects the gendered impacts of SALW proliferation with the inclusion of a provision on gender-based violence. Additionally, target 16.4 of the United Nation’s Sustainable Development Goals seeks to address the development challenge posed by SALW by reducing illicit arms flows by 2030. SIPRI’s research reviews the current knowledge base on the gendered impacts of SALW to identify research gaps. The project gives particular consideration to the social structures and gendered norms that may influence the use of SALW and its proliferation.

Research staff

Emma Bjertén-Günther is a Researcher within the SIPRI Security and Development Programme.