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The gendered effects of explosive weapons examined: an AOAV-Chatham House review

From Afghanistan to Yemen, the devastating impacts of explosive violence have been all too apparent. Between 2011 and 2018, Action on Armed Violence (AOAV) recorded 309,044 casualties from explosive weapons, including 231,909 civilians.

Such harm has led to a growing public awareness of the damage caused by these weapons. At the Vienna Conference on the Protection of Civilians in Urban Warfare in October 2019, over 80 countries voiced support for a political declaration on explosive weapons. However, the discussions around the harms of explosive weapons often fail to take the gendered aspects of this harm into account.

Through analysing the gendered impacts of different weapons types, including the long-term effects such as displacement, and the gender analysis of both state and non-state perpetrators, AOAV, along with Chatham House, set out to build a more detailed understanding of explosive weapons and the manner in which men and women are affected differently by their use.

To read the full report, please go here.

Funded by the Australian government, the event aimed to investigate the gendered impacts of explosive weapons use. It took place at Chatham House, London, on 26th November 2019, and involved over 40 people invited from government, international diplomatic staff, academia, civil society, journalism, UK military, and the medical profession. Discussions were organised around five main sessions, each led by a moderator and featured two or three presenters. Debate and discussion took place under the Chatham House Rule.

The first session examined the role of state perpetrators of explosive violence, looking at states’ commitments under international law to consider a gender perspective on explosive weapons use and what are the gendered impacts of states’ use of Unmanned Aerial Vehicles.

Session 2 assessed how non-state actors use explosive violence, how women may participate in explosive violence in different jihadist groups, including as suicide bombers.

Session 3 scrutinised civilian harm from explosive weapons through a gendered lens, including the impact of different weapons types, experiences of humanitarian surgery in conflict, and gendering data collection.

Session 4 provided an opportunity to turn our focus to military harm from explosive weapons, how the proliferation of IEDs impacted soldiers sense of heroism and why genital trauma is not properly discussed.

Finally, session 5 looked at the reverberating gendered effects of explosive violence, focusing on migration, healthcare, and mental health.

To read the full report, please go here.