Gendered Harm: The Disproportionate Impact of Weapons on Women and Girls

On May 17, 2023, Women In International Security (WIIS) and the Embassy of Liechtenstein hosted a virtual discussion on how arms control, nonproliferation, and disarmament efforts must identify and address the harmful impact of weapons on women and girls. This event brought together experts on gender and nuclear weapons, biological weapons, small arms, and light weapons to find new ways of acknowledging the gendered impact in arms control and disarmament debates. The discussion took stock of the ways in which weapons can harm women and girls; discussed obstacles to effective assistance and support for victims; compared best practices of acknowledging gendered harm in arms control and disarmament debates; and developed proposals for practitioners to address the disproportionate impact that weapons can have on women and girls.

By Chantal de Jonge Oudraat and Jana Wattenberg

In recent years, gender has come up in arms control and disarmament deliberations. Ireland, for example, submitted working papers on gender to preparatory committee meetings of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation-

Treaty (NPT) Review Conferences.1 The Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons (TPNW) emphasizes that nuclear weapons use affects men and women differently and calls for equal representation in disarmament negotiations.2 However, such references to gender are so far the exception rather than the rule in arms control and disarmament talks.

We argue that a systematic inclusion of gender perspectives advances arms control and disarmament deliberations and negotiations in four main ways. First, a gender lens calls attention to the human and gendered consequences of the development and use of weapons. Second, it exposes arms control and disarmament agreements that lack gender provisions. Third, a gender lens highlights the absence of diversity in arms control and disarmament communities.3

Fourth, gender perspectives help reveal hierarchical power structures and encourage critical reflections on the legitimacy of established processes and agreements. In sum, the inclusion of a gender perspective produces more humane, effective, legitimate and sustainable agreements.

This policy brief has a twofold aim: first, to demonstrate how gender perspectives can advance arms control and disarmament efforts, and second, to provide a framework to help policymakers and practitioners integrate gender perspectives in their work. We propose a three-P framework—Provisions, Participation, and Perspectives— to guide these policymakers and practitioners.

We use the term “arms control and disarmament” as an umbrella for international efforts to ban, reduce, limit, regulate or control weapons.4 We define “gender” as a set of social constructs that refer to the social and cultural attributes, norms, roles and behaviors associated with men (masculinities) and women (femininities). These constructs have developed over the course of human history. They have been passed down from generation to generation through an array of social institutions. Indeed, “gender structures power in every arena (education, economics, politics, security), at every level (local, national, regional, global), and through multiple mechanisms (family, society, culture, organizations).”5 We use the terms gender lens, gender perspective and gender analyses interchangeably to refer to approaches that highlight the importance of gender in the use, development, control, and disarmament of weapons.

This policy brief is organized in three parts. In the first part, we provide an overview of the gendered impacts of weapons. In the second part, we present our framework for incorporating gender in arms control and disarmament deliberations and negotiations. In the third part, we recommend policies and suggest further research that can advance the inclusion of gender perspectives in arms control and disarmament deliberations and negotiations.

Gendered Impacts

All weapons, from pistols to advanced drones, have gendered impacts. That is, they affect people differently depending on biological sex and social norms, including gender norms. Policymakers and practitioners who develop proposals to regulate the development, possession and use of weapons, including response and assistance plans, must acknowledge the gendered impact of weapons if those proposals are to have the intended impact.

Explosive weapons, such as landmines and other explosive remnants of war (ERW), can cause enormous harm to people and communities.6 While the weapons themselves can kill or harm regardless of gender or sex, men and boys are more likely to experience immediate injury from landmines and ERW than women or girls. In 2019, men and boys suffered 85 percent of all landmine and ERW casualties.7 The effects of landmines and ERW on women and girls are often long term and indirect. For example, the division of labor in agriculture is often highly gendered, determining whether men or women work in the fields, including fields that are mined or carpeted with cluster bombs.8 In some countries, gender norms make it more difficult for women to enter public spaces outside the house, which could prevent their coming in direct contact with ERW. At the same time, less engagement in public spaces might also mean less access to information about the locations and potential harms of these weapons. In addition, gender norms may make it more difficult for women to gain access to survivor assistance when they are struck by these weapons.

The impact of small arms and light weapons (SALWs) is similarly gendered. In many societies, the possession of weapons is seen as a symbol of masculinity—that is, perceived to represent power, strength, domination and authority. Indeed, men own the majority of small arms. Such notions of masculinity encourage and normalize acts of violence within communities.9 These weapons result in a violent death every 15 minutes: 84 percent of these victims are men and boys.10 Women are less likely to own and use small arms. That said, compared to their ownership, the percentage of women killed by small arms is disproportionately higher than that of men.11 Women are also more likely to be threatened, intimidated and coerced by small arms in the hands of men. Violence against women, including femicide, rape and gender-based sexual violence as a tactic of war, often involves small arms. Gender-based violence that includes the use of small and light weapons is widespread in non-conflict and conflict settings.12 Gender provisions in disarmament agreements would acknowledge these gendered dimensions of SALWs’ possession and use and would allow policymakers and practitioners to better address gender-based violence. 

While data on the sex- and gender-specific impact of chemical and biological weapons are limited, studies have indicated significant sex-specific problems in reproductive health from exposure to toxic agents and disease. For instance, exposure to chemical and biological agents may lead to miscarriages, birth defects and male infertility.13 Gender norms and roles may also lead to different levels of exposure for men and women and cause different levels of social stigma after exposure.14 Research about the impact of chemical weapons attacks in Syria has shown that women have a higher mortality rate, and they experience many gender-specific physiological and mental health consequences, including greater obstacles to care and recovery.15 Care for female victims of chemical weapon attacks is often lacking either because medical personnel have no knowledge of the particular effects of the chemicals on women’s health, including reproductive and maternal health, or because gender norms may limit or slow care for women. For example, a first step in dealing with a chemical attack involves undressing the victim and rinsing chemical agents from the victim’s body. This must happen quickly and often in a public setting. In some cultural contexts, women may feel uncomfortable with these processes and refuse them.16 A gender-sensitive approach to arms control and disarmament agreements must account for these types of gender dynamics.

Discussions about the potential gendered effects of biological weapons have started under the framework of the Biological Weapons Convention.17 Scientists have shown that a person’s vulnerability to microorganisms is determined by a combination of biological (sex) and social (gender) factors. For example, early in the 2001–2002 Ebola outbreak in the Congo and Gabon, the number of men infected was greater than the number of women.18 Indeed, men were the first to come into contact with the virus, as they handled the carcasses of dead infected animals while hunting for food in the forests. Infection rates reversed in the later stages of the outbreak, when women caring for the sick became infected.19 Similarly, the Covid-19 pandemic has revealed many differences between men and women in morbidity (rates of infection) and mortality. Some of these differences are due to sex and genetic predispositions, but many are due to social and gendered factors, including political and socioeconomic standing.20 A people-sensitive approach to the control and disarmament of biological weapons needs to reflect these gender dimensions.

The use of nuclear weapons will cause mammoth harm to all humans—regardless of gender. Between 110,000 and 210,000 people died in the atomic bomb attacks on Hiroshima and Nagasaki.21 Many survivors had long-term physical and psychological injuries. Depending on sex and gender, some were better able to cope than others. For example, research on the effects of the ionizing radiation caused by the atomic attacks has shown that women were two times more likely to develop solid cancers than men. Ionizing radiation also led to increases in stillbirths, miscarriages and birth defects.22 Survivors of the atomic bombs in Japan also had to deal with stigmatization. They became outcasts and social pariahs, unable to get jobs and function normally in Japanese society. These social and resulting economic problems were often worse for women.23

The effects of nuclear weapons on people were at the heart of the three conferences organized in 2013 and 2014 by Austria, Mexico and Norway.24 These countries have cooperated with the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN) and put the human effects of nuclear weapons— including the gendered effects—at the center of their advocacy for the TPNW. 25 The treaty is one of the rare arms control and disarmament agreements to acknowledge the gendered impacts of nuclear weapons use. ICAN has further stressed that the human effects are not restricted to the use of these weapons but also connected to weapon production, testing and storage. Along with other civil society organizations, ICAN has shown how displacements and radiation released during tests conducted decades ago continue to affect indigenous communities in former nuclear testing areas (including in Algeria, Australia, Kazakhstan, the Marshall Islands, and the United States).26 The TPNW exemplifies how a human security and gender-sensitive approach can strengthen arms control and disarmament treaties. 

The gendered impacts of new defense technologies, including those related to cybersecurity, communications and artificial intelligence, have received very little attention in the security community, including multilateral arms control and disarmament fora.27 It is widely understood that military technologies have always been important in the conduct of war. Researchers have pointed out that many of those participating in discussions about new technologies believe that these discussions are gender neutral. In reality, these discussions are gender blind: They do not consider gender.28 Gender norms and unconscious biases shape the development of technologies—mostly by men. Such biases and blind spots in turn affect how technologies are used.29 Many datagathering systems either under- or misrepresent women.30 Artificial intelligence and algorithms based on biased data might therefore be fundamentally flawed. They might also reproduce gender stereotypes. These flaws affect the use of weapons dependent on new technologies, including who (and what) is targeted and killed or destroyed.31 Attacks on critical infrastructure and the disruption of essential services have human, and thus gendered, impacts. Gender norms might also downplay certain harms. Nonphysical harms (for example, sexual cyberattacks) might be given less priority by governments than attacks that lead to other harms.32 It is consequently key that policymakers and practitioners pay attention to the gender dimensions of cyber weapons when they develop strategies to limit, control and disarm these forms of weapons.

In sum, a recognition of the different and disproportionate ways in which women and men suffer from different types of weapons makes an important contribution to the understanding of their human and gendered impacts. Policymakers and practitioners should adopt a framework for arms control and disarmament that acknowledges these gendered dimensions.

A Gender Framework for  Arms Control and Disarmament

We propose a three-P gender framework that policymakers and practitioners should use to develop human-centric and gender-responsive arms control and disarmament. Our framework focuses on (1) gender-sensitive provisions in arms control and disarmament agreements; (2) genderbalanced participation in deliberations and negotiations; and (3) gender perspectives that can elucidate and enhance the intellectual foundations of arms control and disarmament.


Only 3 of 37 bilateral and multilateral arms control agreements that have been signed since 1945 have gender provisions: the 2008 Convention on Cluster Munitions; the 2013 Arms Trade Treaty (ATT); and the 2017 Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons.33 The UN Program of Action on Small Arms and Light Weapons and the AntiPersonnel Mine Ban Convention have adopted gender commitments in subsequent review conferences. It is expected that some gender language will also be included in the final document of the 10th Review Conference of the Non-Proliferation Treaty to be held in 2021. (For details  on the gender provisions in arms control agreements,  see table 1.)

The inclusion of gender provisions in legal and political arms control commitments got a boost with the adoption of UN Security Council Resolution 1325 (UNSCR 1325) on Women, Peace and Security (WPS) in 2000 and the adoption of UN General Assembly Resolution 65/69 on women, disarmament, nonproliferation and arms control in 2010. 

UNSCR 1325 and subsequent WPS resolutions call for increasing the participation of women in peace and security decisionmaking processes, as well as the importance of integrating gender perspectives in peace and security deliberations. More specifically, the WPS resolutions call on states to take into account the different needs of men and women ex-combatants in disarmament, demobilization and reintegration processes and to consider the special needs of women and girls in mine-clearance and mineawareness programs.34 General Assembly Resolution 65/99 and subsequent resolutions focus on representation and participation.35 The Security Council and General Assembly resolutions gave civil society organizations extra leverage for pressuring states to retrofit existing arms control agreements with gender provisions and to integrate such provisions in new arms control agreements.

Civil society organizations have been the main drivers of the WPS agenda. They have also been the main drivers of initiatives to integrate gender provisions in arms control agreements. ICAN, for instance, played a key role in

Table 1: Gender Provisions in Arms Control and Disarmament Agreements

Agreement                     Acronym    Year      Gender Provisions                                          Subsequent Actions

Treaty on the                      NPT            1968      —                                                                                                                              

In 2017, Ireland introduced a Working Paper (WP) to the Preparatory Committee of

Non-Proliferation of                                                                                                           the 10th Review Conference on the role of gender in the NPT. Subsequent WPs have

Nuclear Weapons                                                                                                        addressed the gendered impact of nuclear weapons and the participation of women in

the negotiations.1

Anti-Personnel             APMBC      1997          —                In 2019, at the 4th Review Conference, states adopted an Action Plan, which requires Mine Ban Convention      countries to mainstream gender considerations in mine-action programming and to

remove barriers to the full, equal and gender-balanced participation in mine action and Convention meetings.2

Convention on Certain    CCW           1980      —                                                            In 2019, discussions on Lethal Autonomous Weapons (LAWs) called attention to gender

Conventional Weapons                                                                                                      bias in algorithms governing autonomous weapons.3

UN Program of Action     PoA            2001     Preamble:                                                In 2012, at the 2nd Review Conference, states expressed grave concern about the

to Prevent, Combat and                Recognizes the negative impact of the illicit negative impact of the illicit trade in SALW on women, men, children, youth, the elderly Eradicate the Illicit Trade                trade in SALW on women and girls.        and persons with disabilities and called for improved understanding of the concerns

in Small Arms and Light                 and needs of these groups. States also recognized the need to further integrate the role Weapons (SALW)          of women in efforts to combat and eradicate the illicit trade in SALW. Lastly, member

states undertook to facilitate the participation and representation of women in SALW policymaking and to explore means to eliminate the negative impact of the illicit trade in SALW on women.

    In 2018, at the 3rd Review Conference states reaffirmed their previous commitments. They recognized the relationship between the illicit trade in small arms and genderbased violence and called for the collection of  sex-disaggregated data. They also encouraged gender mainstreaming in policies and programs combating the illicit trade in SALW and the full participation and representation of women in decisionmaking, including in leadership roles.4

Convention on                 CCM           2008     Preamble:                                               In 2015, at the 1st Review Conference states adopted a five-year road map for the

Cluster Munitions                                       Recognizes the importance of gender-sensitive implementation of the CCM—the Dubrovnik Action Plan. The plan calls on states to

                                               assistance                                                 mainstream gender in their clearance response plans and involve victims in the

                                                  Article 5, para 1: Contains an obligation decisionmaking assistance processes in a gender- and age-sensitive manner.5

to provide age- and gender-sensitive victim assistance

Arms Trade Treaty (ATT) ATT            2013     Preamble:                                               In 2016, at the 2nd Conference of States Parties to the ATT (CSP2) a Working Group on

Notes that civilians, particularly women and                   Effective Treaty Implementation (WGETI) was established. A sub-working group focuses children, account for the vast majority of those        on Articles 6 and 7. The group has developed a list of guidance documents related to

                                             adversely affected by armed conflict and armed article 7.4. See the letter of the Chair, ATT/CSP7.WGETI/2021/Chair/655/M.LetterWorkPlans

                                               violence.                                                 (March 31, 2021). The 7th CSP will take place August 30 – September 2021.6

    Article 7, para 4: Calls on states to assess whether there is a risk that the exported weapons will be used “to commit or facilitate serious acts of gender-based violence or serious acts of violence against women and children.”

The Treaty on the        TPNW        2017          Preamble: The first meeting of the States Parties to the TPNW will take place January 12-14, 2022 in Prohibition of             Notes the disproportionate impact of nuclear Vienna, Austria.7 Nuclear Weapons                weapons on women and girls as a result of

1. See Ireland, Gender, Development and Nuclear Weapons, NPT/CONF.2020/PC.I/WP.38 (Vienna: May 10, 2017); Ireland, Impact and ionizing radiation and commits to supporting                   Empowerment: The Role of Gender in the NPT, NPT/CONF.2020/PC.II/WP.38 (Geneva: April 24, 2018); Australia, Canada, Ireland,

                                             and strengthening the effective participation of Namibia, Sweden and UNIDIR, Improving Gender Equality and Diversity in the NPT Review Process, NPT/CONF.2020/PC.III/WP.25 (New York: April 18, 2019); Australia, Canada, Ireland, Namibia, Sweden and UNIDIR, Integrating Gender Perspectives in the

women in nuclear disarmament. Implementation of the NPT, NPT/CONF.2020/PCIII/WP.27 (New York, April 18 2019); Ireland, Gender in the NPT: Recommendations for the 2020 Review Conference, NPT/CONF.2020/PC.III/WP.48 (New York: May 7, 2019). See also Chair’s Factual Summary (Working     Article 6: Commits states to provide “gender                Paper), NPT/CONF.2020/ PC.II/WP41 (Geneva: May 16, 2018), para 10.

sensitive assistance, without         2. See the Oslo Action Plan, APLC/CONF/2019/5/Add.1 (Oslo: November 29, 2019). discrimination, including medical care,       3. See United Nations, UN Disarmament Yearbook 2019 (New York: United Nations, 2020), p. 221.

                                              rehabilitation and psychological  4Weapons in All its Aspects, A Conf.192/2012/RC/4 (September 2012).. See Outcome Document, Programme of Action to Prevent, Combat and Eradicate the Illicit Trade in Small Arms and Light

                                             support, as well as provide for their social and 5. See UNIDIR, Gender and Disarmament Resource Pack for Multinational Practitioners (Geneva: UNIDIR, 2020).

                                               economic inclusion.”                                6. See Verity Coyle and Anna Crowe, The Arms Trade Treaty’s Gender-Based Violence Risk Assessment: A Questionnaire for

Information Sources (Washington, DC and Cambridge, MA: Stimson Center and International Human Rights Clinic, Harvard Law School, February 2021); Emile LeBrun, ed., Handbook: Gender-Responsive Small Arms Control: A Practical Guide (Geneva: Small

Arms Survey, 2019); Control Arms, Interpreting the Arms Trade Treaty: International Human Rights Law and GBV in Article 7 Risk

Assessments (New York: Control Arms, April 2019); Saferworld, ATT Expert Group: Implementing the ATT: Undertaking an Arms Transfer Risk Assessment, Briefing No.6 (London: Saferworld, August 2018); Ray Acheson, Gender-Based Violence and the Arms Trade Treaty (Geneva: Reaching Critical Will, WILPF, 2015).

7. See Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons, A/Conf.229/2017/8 (New York: United Nations, July 7, 2017).

advocating for the acknowledgment of the gender dimension in the TPNW.36 Efforts by civil society organizations to integrate gender provisions in arms control agreements have also built on obligations states have assumed under the UN Charter, international human rights law, international humanitarian law and political commitments such as UNSCR 1325—that is, commitments to promote gender equality, nondiscrimination and the protection of civilians.37

The inclusion of gender provisions is a necessary first step for delivering human-centric arms control and disarmament agreements. At a minimum, provisions in arms control and disarmament agreements should address the effects of weapons on people. Response and assistance plans can incorporate gender perspectives and provide for genderspecific measures to prevent and alleviate harms. The collection of sex-disaggregated data can help practitioners to tailor inclusive arms control provisions that cater to the needs of all people. Gender-sensitive provisions should also address the issue of participation and representation. They should make sure that all genders are represented and have equal opportunities to participate and occupy leadership positions in the development and implementation of arms control and disarmament agreements. Ideally, arms control and disarmament agreements should include provisions that oblige states to conduct gender analyses. An example of a good practice in this regard is the ATT, which calls on states to assess the impact of the export of certain weapons on gender-based violence in the recipient state.38 Lastly, to ensure implementation of gender-sensitive provisions, agreements should provide for monitoring and verification processes and procedures.


Women have long been active in disarmament movements, including nuclear disarmament groups.39 Even so, women have been mostly absent from formal arms control and disarmament deliberations and negotiations.40

Article 36 (a UK-based NGO created in 2011) and the UN Institute for Disarmament Research (UNIDIR) have shown that the proportion of women in key UN disarmament fora averages around 20–35 percent and is markedly lower than in other issue areas, such as climate change or labor issues.41 In 2017, only 32 percent of the delegates at the UN General Assembly First Committee—the committee in charge of international security issues—were women.42 This percentage drops to an average of 21 percent for the eight NPT review conferences held between 1999 and 2015.43 UNIDIR has noted that “when states can only send a single representative, they almost always send a man. Women are typically included as the second or, more often, third or fourth member of their respective delegations.”44 Women also remain underrepresented in discussions of new technologies that affect the development of weapon systems, including those that deal with communications, cyber and artificial intelligence.45 In sum, stereotypical gender patterns persist: Women are usually assigned to discussions about “soft” humanitarian issues rather than “hard” security and arms control issues.46

Women are similarly underrepresented in the national security and nuclear fields in the United States. Between the 1970s and 2019, women held only 11 of the 68 leadership positions at the Department of State, 2 of the 21 National Security Advisor positions and 13 of the 109 Arms Control and Disarmament Agency leadership positions.47 In 2020, Women In International Security (WIIS) surveyed the representation of women in US think tanks as well as publications on international security, including arms control and disarmament issues. It found persistent underrepresentation of women at both the leader and expert levels. In 2020, women led only 19 percent of think tanks in the international security field. Women represented 35 percent of all experts of working on foreign policy, national and international security in US think tanks, and only 30 percent of all experts working on nuclear and arms control issues. 48 Women were also underrepresented in international security journals: They wrote only 23 percent of articles published between 2015 and 2019. The number of articles written by women on nuclear security and arms control is a fraction—15 percent—of all articles on arms control and nuclear security.49

The underrepresentation of women in international security matters has not gone unnoticed. With the adoption of UNSCR 1325 in 2000, members of the UN Security Council recognized the importance of the full participation of women in preventing conflict as well as establishing peace and security. Starting in 2010, the UN General Assembly has adopted (every other year) a resolution on “women, disarmament, non-proliferation and arms control.” These resolutions urge UN member states to promote the equitable representation of women in the field of disarmament and to strengthen women’s effective participation.50 In 2015, the UN Office for Disarmament Affairs in Vienna launched a multiyear educational capacity-building program for women, which included a particular focus on women from the Global South.51 In 2018, the UN Secretary-General’s agenda for disarmament called for the full and equal participation of women in all decisionmaking processes related to disarmament and international security. The UN Secretary-General also committed to gender parity on all panels, boards, expert groups and other bodies established under his auspices in the field of disarmament.52 In 2018, the International Gender Champions Disarmament Impact Group published a Gender and Disarmament Resource Pack to help multilateral practitionersintegrate a gender lens into their work and gender balances within their ranks.53 Nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) have also undertaken a range of initiatives to raise awareness about the lack of women in the arms control and disarmament field.54 A number of organizations have set out to empower and mentor young women as they start their professional careers in the security field.55 In November 2018, former US Ambassador to the International Atomic Energy Agency Laura Holgate, together with the Ploughshares Fund, launched the Gender Champions in Nuclear Policy(GCNP), an initiative committed to addressing gender imbalances in the field.56

In the run-up to the November 2020 US elections, the

Leadership Council on Women in National Security (LCWINS) asked all presidential candidates to sign a gender parity pledge in national security appointments. Both Joe Biden and Kamala Harris signed the pledge. As of April 2021, the Biden administration is close to delivering on its pledge: 47 percent of its Cabinet appointments are women.57 At present, the administration has the highest representation of women ever.58 

These initiatives reflect policymakers and practitioners’ recognition of the importance of gender equality in arms control and disarmament diplomacy. Yet they also suggest that policymakers and practitioners have predominantly operationalized “gender” to mean increasing the number of women in negotiating and deliberative fora. The sustainability and effectiveness of these types of initiatives to improve women’s representation depends on mechanisms to hold organizations accountable for commitments they have made. Monitoring by civil society organizations, including scorecards by WIIS and tracking efforts by LCWINS, are critical in this regard.


Gender perspectives are essential to advance arms control and disarmament. They do so in three main ways. First, they demonstrate how gender norms and gender stereotypes shape weapon-related discourses. Second, gender perspectives show how arms control and disarmament regimes create and maintain social and political hierarchies. Third, gender perspectives offer new vantage points and approaches to security challenges by emphasizing the interests of people rather than those of states.

First, gender perspectives enhance our understanding of discourses about weapons, arms control and disarmament. Discourses shape policies and our social worlds, including arms control and disarmament polices. Gender perspectives and gender analyses show how notions of feminity and masculinity are embedded in discourses and the ways in which policymakers and practitioners ascribe legitimacy to some policy options while dismissing others. The feminist scholar Carol Cohn has argued that gendered language structures the thinking about weapons, including their objectives and roles. According to Cohn, gendered language “creates silences and absences. It keeps things out of the room, unsaid, and keeps them ignored if they managed to get in.”59 Cohn has shown how the technostrategic language of defense intellectuals enabled them to think and speak about nuclear war in ways that were detached from the human consequences and realities of nuclear weapons and their use.60 Cohn also emphasized that sexual metaphors have been an important part of the nuclear discourse since they act as “a way to mobilize gendered associations and symbols in creating assent, excitement, support for, and identification with the weapons.”61 Like Cohn, Ray Acheson claims that “the dominant nuclear weapons discourse is full of dichotomies such as hard versus soft security, strong versus weak, active versus passive, and national security versus human security. The masculine identified sides of these pairs are almost always attributed more value than the other.”62 Gender perspectives and gender analyses show how weapons-related discourses are imbued with gendered language. This in turn has impacts on arms control and disarmament practices and strategies.

A focus on the gendered dimensions of the language used by policymakers also reveals why some policy options are considered as more rational and legitimate than others. For example, Lauren Wilcox has shown how military strategies and debates about offensive versus defensive strategies are not only determined by the overall state of military technology, as generally contended, but also by gendered discourses. She highlights how perceptions of technological developments are gendered and coded as either feminine or masculine. This coding of technologies is based “not on their material contribution to offensive or defensive combat strategies but instead on their relationship to idealized images of soldiers’ masculinity bound up in strength, bravery and chivalry.”63 The “cult of the offensive” is associated with masculine attributes such as strength, aggression, boldness.64 Wilcox’s gender perspective offers a new way of understanding tendencies to support offensive military strategies. It also explains why many policymakers tend to “overestimate the strategic advantages of the offensive (…)even if, as military balance theorists allow, the defense usually has the objective advantage in war.”65

Gender perspectives also demonstrate how some actors become delegitimized through gender-coded language. In his analysis of nonproliferation discourses by US policymakers, Hugh Gusterson has shown how NPT-recognized nucleararmed states are portrayed as responsible, rational and disciplined; states with nuclear ambitions are framed as impulsive, emotional and irrational.66 Gusterson has noted that, “whereas the United States is spoken of as having ‘vital interests’ and ‘legitimate security needs,’ Third World nations have ‘passions,’ ‘longings,’ and ‘yearnings’ for nuclear weapons which must be controlled and contained by the strong male and adult hand of America.”67 Similarly, Acheson has examined how nuclear weapon states and their allies depicted those advocating for the TPNW as naïve, unrealistic and emotional.68

In sum, a better understanding of the gender dimensions of weapons discourses can help policymakers and practitioners reflect on the ways in which they might prioritize masculine values over feminine ones. Gender perspectives further offer ways of examining why policymakers might perceive some policy options (such as expanding arsenals) as more rational and legitimate than others (disarming arsenals).

Second, gender perspectives can help policymakers and practitioners understand how hierarchical structures in world politics are created and maintained. The nuclear nonproliferation regime exemplifies how hierarchies are created. Scholars such as Shampa Biswas, Nick Ritchie and Jan Ruzicka have examined the hierarchical nature of the NPT.69 Specifically, the NPT created a system in which five states—China, France, Russia, the United Kingdom, and the United States—can legitimately possess nuclear weapons while all other states commit to abstain from developing them. Gusterson has shown how the hierarchy of the nonproliferation regime is policed by “othering” and “feminizing.” 70 Susan Wright has noted how masculinist values, including “othering,” “power over” and seeking “military advantage” guided arms control and disarmament efforts in the 1960s. She has argued that the tenets of arms control and disarmament developed in the 1960s were determined by stereotypical masculine values of seeking “power over” and military advantage.71 For Acheson, nuclear weapons are “the ultimate tool(s) of violence, (…) dominance and control,” and they are therefore the ultimate symbol of the patriarchy—an unequal gendered hierarchy dominated by men.72

Unequal power hierarchies created by arms control and disarmament regimes are unstable and vulnerable to contestation by those who feel treated unfairly. The tensions in the nuclear nonproliferation regime are a good example. Non-nuclear states have long been frustrated with the nuclear powers’ lack of progress in making good on their disarmament pledge and thereby undoing the unequal hierarchy of a regime that rests on a distinction between nuclear weapon states and those without nuclear weapons. Gender perspectives would encourage practitioners to identify ways in which arms control regimes create and maintain unequal hierarchical structures in world politics.73

Third, feminist and gender perspectives offer alternative frameworks for conceptualizing security, including arms control and disarmament. Feminist scholars challenge the idea that nation-states are the primary referent objects of security.74 They ask how security policies would change

if they were to represent the experiences and needs of marginalized groups in societies. Shifting from national to human security perspectives has important implications for arms control and disarmament debates. It may show that individuals feel insecure in a state that bases its national security on the possession of certain categories of weapons. A human security approach can strengthen calls for arms control and disarmament while challenging the validity of deterrence postures. The TPNW made this shift by reframing the issue of nuclear weapons in human security terms rather than in state-centered strategic stability terms. 

Feminist perspectives also expand conceptions of who matters in world politics. Scholars such as Cynthia Enloe have examined the multiple roles that women play in world politics.75 A gender-sensitive approach to arms control and disarmament recognizes multiple international actors, including civil society actors and not just powerful states. The TPNW exemplifies how this can work in practice. Promoted and advanced by non-nuclear armed states and civil society actors, this treaty represents an expression of “diplomacy of resistance” by non-nuclear armed states and civil society within a nuclear order that has institutionalized a superior position for nuclear-armed states.76 Policymakers and practitioners who embrace gender perspectives can thus promote the inclusion of different groups of actors in the development and implementation of arms control and disarmament agreements.

In sum, the integration of gender perspectives has multiple benefits for policymakers and practitioners who work on arms control and disarmament. Gender perspectives can help them understand why actors value certain weapons and resist policy options that lead to banning such weapons. They can also alert policymakers and practitioners to the destabilizing effects of unequal power hierarchies. Lastly, gender perspectives allow for alternative approaches to conceptualizing security that shift the focus from state security to human security.

Conclusions and Recommendations

In this policy brief, we have presented a Gender Framework for Arms Control and Disarmament.  Policymakers and practitioners who seek to develop and implement arms control and disarmament agreements that are gendersensitive should draw on the three pillars of our framework. A first step to taking gender seriously is to examine whether arms control agreements have sufficient provisions to account for the gendered impact of the class of weapons that are governed by the agreement. Alongside this effort, policymakers and practitioners need to ensure that the groups who negotiate and implement arms control and disarmament agreements reflect equal participation of men, women, trans- and nonbinary individuals. Gender perspectives further offer various ways for policymakers and practitioners to critically reflect on the legitimacy of their policy proposals and examine the power hierarchies embedded in arms control and disarmament regimes.

We make the following recommendations to policymakers and practitioners who seek to implement our framework.

Provisions: Gender provisions offer one way for policymakers and practitioners to include considerations of gender in arms control and disarmament agreements. These provisions should target all three dimensions of the framework we have presented. Review conferences offer a suitable avenue to call for the inclusion of gender provisions in existing agreements. Working papers on gender have been submitted to the Preparatory Commissions of the NPT Review Conferences, for example (see table 1). Policymakers and practitioners should support existing working papers and present their own proposals to promote the inclusion of gender provisions in the NPT. The ATT and TPNW provide some non-exhaustive examples. Additionally, policymakers and practitioners should call for the integration of gender provisions in yet-to-be negotiated agreements, especially in the cyber and artificial intelligence arenas.

Participation: Women remain underrepresented in international and national arms control and disarmament fora. One way to operationalize a gender-forward approach is to make sure that delegations are gender diverse. Policymakers and practitioners should support existing initiatives by nongovernmental organizations, such as the Gender Champions in Nuclear Policy, and call for proactive steps toward diversity by states and international organizations active in arms control and disarmament. While initiatives have been created to advance women’s roles in negotiations and international fora, state and nonstate actors have not routinely engaged in robust monitoring and evaluation—critical for holding states and organizations accountable and for assessing the effectiveness of diversity initiatives. Initiatives like the WIIS Gender Scorecard should be expanded.77

Perspectives: Policymakers, practitioners, civil society organizations and foundations should bring gender perspectives into arms control and disarmament deliberations in four main ways. First, they should apply the insights gained from the gender perspectives set out in this policy brief to their work. Second, policymakers and practitioners should commit to putting gender perspectives on the agendas of conferences, workshops and events related to arms control and disarmament. Third, policymakers, practitioners and civil society organizations should support next-generation educational initiatives, including nuclear policy–related boot camps, WIIS next-generation programs and winter/summer schools. Fourth, foundations active in the arms control and disarmament field should support research projects on gender, arms control and disarmament. We have identified four strands of research to advance understanding of the gender dimensions of arms control and disarmament.

  1. Systematic assessment of gender impacts of weapons: Future studies should systematically examine the gendered impacts of weapons, including the gendered impacts of cybersecurity and new technologies. The role of gender and the gendered impact of new technologies on military doctrines and organizations remain largely uncharted terrain. Future studies on the gender dimensions and gendered impacts of cybersecurity and new technologies, such as artificial intelligence and uncrewed aerial vehicles (drones) would make important contributions to the understanding of the gendered impact of these new forms of weaponry.
  2. Bringing “gender” into existing arms control and disarmament agreements: A second strand of research should systematically explore how existing arms control agreements could be retrofitted with gender provisions and how gender provisions could be monitored and verified. This revision would require undertaking a systematic gender analysis of arms control and disarmament agreements. Multilateral agreements and monitoring and verification institutions would provide a starting point for research. The Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons should, for instance, examine what gender provisions should be added to the Chemical Weapons Convention. It should also review its assistance, monitoring and verification procedures. Similarly, the International Atomic Energy Agency should engage in a systematic gender analysis of its programs, procedures and processes.
  3. The state of diversity in the arms control and disarmament community: Research should build on existing studies that take stock of the state of diversity in arms control and disarmament communities. Such research should continue to monitor gender balances in arms control and disarmament fora. It should be expanded to identify the barriers women face at both a national and international level. Research should also analyze what qualitative differences arise from the diversification of arms control negotiating teams, including the participation of women.
  4. The impact of gender identities on arms control and disarmament: A fourth strand of research should examine how ideas about gender, including notions of masculinity and femininity, shape the way in which policymakers and practitioners pursue arms control and disarmament negotiations. Feminist scholars have established that gender identities shape the way in which individuals act. Yet little is known about the ways in which these identities shape

the ways in which policymakers and practitioners negotiate and develop arms control and disarmament agreements. A first step to find out whether and how gender identities matter would be to conduct exploratory interviews with policymakers and practitioners in diplomatic positions, defense and state departments, nuclear laboratories and international organizations. Research that explores how gender identities matter could further examine whether and how gendered discourses affect negotiations. US discourses about the North Korean and Iranian nuclear programs could be good case studies. 

In this policy brief, we have demonstrated how a gender lens enhances arms control and disarmament deliberations. Some policymakers, practitioners, international organizations, advocacy organizations and individual researchers have taken commendable first steps to diversify the arms control and disarmament field and have begun to consider the importance of gender. These efforts are important and should be built upon. Our policy brief provides policymakers and practitioners with a framework focused on provisions, participation and perspectives to give them multiple entry points to take gender seriously in their arms control and disarmament efforts. 


  1. See Ireland, Gender in the Non-Proliferation Treaty: Recommendations for the 2020 Review Conference, NPT/CONF.2020/PC.III/WP. 48 (New York: May 7, 2019); Australia, Canada, Ireland, Namibia, Sweden and the United Nations Institute for Disarmament Research, Improving

Gender Equality and Diversity in the Non-Proliferation Treaty Review Process, NPT/CONF.2020/PC.III/WP.25 (New York: April 18, 2019). 

  • See Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons, A/Conf.229/2017/8 (New York: United Nations, July 7, 2017).
  • There are many studies that show that gender diverse groups produce better outcomes. See, for example, Jana Krause, “Women’s Participation in Peace Negotiations and the Durability of Peace,” International Interactions, Vol. 44, No. 6, (2018), pp. 985-1016; and Sundiatu DixonFyle, Kevin Dolan, Vivian Hunt and Sara Prince, Diversity Wins  (New York: McKinsey and Company, May 19, 2020).
  • For a discussion of arms control and disarmament definitions, see, James E. Dougherty, How to Think About Arms Control and Disarmament, published for National Strategy Information Center (New York: Crane and Russak, 1973). See also Jozef Goldblat, Arms Control: A Guide to Negotiations and Agreements (Oslo/London: PRIO/Sage, 1994).
  • Chantal de Jonge Oudraat and Michael E. Brown, The Gender and Security Agenda: Strategies for the 21st Century (London: Routledge, 2020), p. 6. As social and cultural constructs, gender norms and roles also intersect with other markers of identity, such as race, ethnic background, class, age and sexual orientation.
  • See Christina Wille and Alfredo Malaret Baldo, Menu of Indicators to Measure the Reverberating Effects on Civilians from the Use of Explosive Weapons in Populated Areas (Geneva: UN Institute for Disarmament Research, 2020).
  • In 2019, 80 percent of all casualties (5,554) were civilians. Men and boys constitute 85 percent of all casualties. Children are particularly vulnerable to landmines and ERW; they made up 43 percent of casualties. See International Campaign to Ban Landmines (ICBL), Landmine Monitor 2020 (Geneva: ICBL, 2020). See also Landmine and Cluster Munition Monitor, Impact of Mines/ERW on Women and Children, factsheet (Ottawa: Landmine and Cluster Munition Monitor,

November 2010); WILPF, Cluster Munitions and Gender—It Takes More

Than a Ban (Stockholm: IKFF, 2008); WILPF, Ensuring Women and Gender Are Reflected in the Cluster Munitions Treaty (Geneva: WILPF, May 2015).

  • See International Campaign to Ban Landmines, Impact of Mines/ ERW on Women and Children, Landmine and Cluster Munition

Monitor Factsheet (Ottawa: International Campaign to Ban Landmines,

November 2010); UNODA, Conflict, Peace-Building, Disarmament, Security: Gender Perspectives on Landmines (New York: United Nations, March 2001).

  • For discussions on the ways in which notions of (hyper-) masculinity shape actions, particularly with regards to weapons and violence, see Maike Messerschmidt, “Ingrained Practices: Sexual Violence, Hypermasculinity, and Re-Mobilization for Violent Conflict,” Global

Society, Vol. 32, No. 4 (2018), pp. 477–95; Donald L. Mosher and Silva

Tomkins, “Scripting the Macho Man: Hypermasculine Socialization and Enculturation,“Journal of Sex Research, Vol. 25, No. 1 (1988), pp. 61; and Elin Bjarnegård and Erik Melander,  “Disentangling Gender, Peace and Democratization: The Negative Effects of Militarized Masculinity,” Journal of Gender Studies, Vol. 20, No. 2 (2011).

  1. This includes violent deaths by homicide and in armed conflict.

UN Secretary General, Securing Our Common Future: An Agenda for Disarmament (New York: UN Office for Disarmament Affairs, 2018)  p. 39–40.

  1. Globally, 95 percent of perpetrators of homicide are men; they represent 81 percent of all victims. That said, gender inequality contributes to women’s disproportionately higher victim rates. For example, of the 87,000 women murdered worldwide in 2017, 34 percent were killed by intimate partners and 24 percent by other family members. See UN Office on Drugs and Crime, Global Study on Homicide 2019: Gender-Related Killing of Women and Girls (Vienna: UNODC, 2019).
  2. See UN Secretary General, Conflict-Related Sexual Violence, S/2020/487 (New York: United Nations, 2020); UNODC, Global Study on Homicide 2019: Gender-Related Killing of Women and Girls (Vienna: UNODC, 2019); SEESAC, Gender and SALW: Gender Aspects of SALW and How to Address Them in Practice (Belgrade: SEESAC, 2018); United Nations, Modular Small Arms Control Implementation Compendium: Women, Men and the Gendered Nature of Small Arms and Light

Weapons, MOSAIC 06.10: 2017 (E)V1.0 (New York: United Nations,

2018); Vanessa Farr, Henri Myrttinen and Albrecht Schnabel, eds., Sexed Pistols: The Gendered Impacts of Small Arms and Light Weapons (Tokyo:

UN University Press, 2009).

  1. See Renata Hessmann Dalaqua, James Revill, Alastair Hay and

Nancy Connell, Missing Links: Understanding Sex- and Gender-Related Impacts of Chemical and Biological Weapons (Geneva: UNIDIR, 2019).

  1. Ibid.
  2. In Syria, women and children accounted for 43 percent of all deaths from chemical weapons—they accounted for only 5 percent of frontline deaths. Overall, 2.6 percent of women’s deaths were due to chemical attacks as opposed to 0.5 percent for men. See Inji El Bakry and Tobias Schneider, The Last Straw: How Chemical Weapons Impact Women and Break Communities (Berlin: GPPi, February 2021).
  3. See El Bakry and Schneider, The Last Straw.
  4. For example, UNIDIR and the Permanent Mission of Norway in Geneva hosted a meeting on the importance of gender for the Biological Weapons Convention on August 7, 2019. 
  5. See Martha Anker et al, Addressing Sex and Gender in EpidemicProne Infectious Diseases (Geneva: WHO, 2007), pp. 24–31.
  6. Ibid. Women also took care of the dead, which exposed them to the virus.
  7. See Anna Purdie et al, “Sex, Gender and COVID-19: Disaggregated

Data and Health Disparities,” BMU GH Blogs (March 24, 2020);

Clare Wenham, Julia Smith and Rosemary Morgan, “COVID-19: The

Gendered Impacts of the Outbreak,” The Lancet, Vol. 395 (March 14,

2020), pp. 846–48; Sara E. Davies, Sophie Harman, Jacqui True and

Clare Wenham, Why Gender Matters in the Impact and Recovery from

COVID-19 (Sydney: The Lowy Institute, March 20, 2020); CARE,

Gender Implications of COVID-19 Outbreaks in Development and

Humanitarian Settings (London: Care, March 2020). See also Anker,

Addressing Sex and Gender and Martha Anker et al., Taking Sex and Gender into Account in Emerging Infectious Disease Programmes: An Analytical Framework (Geneva: WHO, 2011).

  • Hiroshima had a preattack population of approximately 255,000, and Nagasaki’s populations was approximately 195,000. There is no consensus on the number of people who died or got injured. See Alex Wellerstein, “Counting the Dead at Hiroshima and Nagasaki,” Bulletin  of Atomic Scientists (August 4, 2020).
  • See Mary Olson, “Disproportionate Impact of Radiation and Radiation Regulation,” Interdisciplinary Science Reviews, Vol. 44, No.

2, (2019), pp. 131-139; Anne Guro Dimmen, Gendered Impacts: The

Humanitarian Impacts of Nuclear Weapons from a Gender Perspective, UNIDIR Vienna Conference Series, Paper No. 5 of 6 (Geneva/Vienna:

ILPI and UNIDIR, 2014); John Borie et al., Gender, Development and Nuclear Weapons (Geneva: International Law and Policy Institute (ILPI) and UN Institute for Disarmament Research (UNIDIR), October 2016).

  • See Jasmine Owens, “The Gendered Impacts of the Hiroshima and Nagasaki Bombing,” Outrider (2020).
  • See Jan Ruzicka, “The Next Great Hope: The Humanitarian Approach to Nuclear Weapons,” Journal of International Political Theory, Vol. 15, No. 3 (2019), pp. 386–400; Kjolv Egeland, “Banning the Bomb: Inconsequential Posturing or Meaningful Stigmatization?” Global Governance, Vol. 24 (2018), pp.11–20.
  • The International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN) was launched in 2007. For an example of ICAN’s emphasis on gender impact, see ICAN, Gender and Nuclear Weapons (Vienna: ICAN website); Ray Acheson, A Feminist Critique of the Atomic Bomb (Berlin:

Heinrich Böll Stiftung, 2018).

  • See ICRC, Humanitarian Impacts and Risks of Use of Nuclear

Weapons (Geneva: ICRC, August 20, 2020). See also Jon Henley, “France Has Underestimated Impact of Nuclear Tests in French Polynesia, Research Finds,” The Guardian (March 9, 2021); Lacie Heeley, “To Make and Maintain America’s Nukes, Some Communities Pay the Price,” The World (January 30, 2018); Beyza Unal, “The Worst Effects of Our

Nuclear Programme Are the Ones That Nobody Talks About,” The Independent (May 16, 2017). For examinations of the impact of nuclear weapons production on communities in African countries, see Gabrielle Hecht, Being Nuclear: Africans and Global Uranium Trade (Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 2012).

  • See UNIDIR, Gender and Disarmament Resource Pack for

Multinational Practioners (Geneva: UNIDIR, January 2020). See also Katharine Millar, James Shires and Tatiana Tropina, Gender Approaches to Cybersecurity: Design, Defence and Response (Geneva: UNIDIR, 2021); Deborah Brown and Allison Pytlak, Why Gender Matters in International Cyber Security (Geneva: WILPF and the Association for Progressive Communications, April 2020).

  • See Millar, Gender Approaches to Cybersecurity.
  • Ibid.
  • See Caroline Criado Perez, Invisible Women: Data Bias in a World Designed for Men (New York: Abrams Press, 2019).
  • See Ray Acheson, Richard Moyes and Thomas Nash, Sex and Drone Strikes: Gender and Identity in Targeting and Casualty Analysis (London and Geneva: Article 36 and Reaching Critical Will, October 2014). For the impact of uncrewed autonomous weapons on the military and the battlefield see also Lorraine Bayard de Volo, “Unmanned? Gender Recalibrations and the Rise of Drone Warfare,” Politics and Gender,

Vol.12 (2016), pp.50–77; Sumita Kunashakaran, “Un(wo)manned Aerial Vehicles: An Assessment of How Unmanned Aerial Vehicles Influence Masculinity in the Conflict Arena,” Contemporary Security Policy, Vol.

37, No. 1 (2016), p. 31–61; Mary Manjikian, “Becoming Unmanned: The Gendering of Lethal Autonomous Warfare Technology,” International Feminist Journal of Politics, Vol. 16, No. 1 (2014), pp. 48–65.

  • See Millar, Gender Approaches to Cybersecurity, p. 28.
  • We have included in this list important politically binding commitments such as the UN Program of Action on Small Arms and Light Weapons.
  • Subsequent WPS resolutions continued to note and draw attention to the gendered impact of conventional weapons, including ERW and SALW. For connections between the WPS agenda and arms control and disarmament see, for example, Henri Myrttinen, Connecting the Dots: Arms Control, Disarmament and the Women, Peace and Security Agenda (Geneva: UNIDIR, 2020); Christine Butegwa, Gender Perspectives in

Arms Control and Disarmament: News from Africa, Workshop Report

(Geneva: UNIDIR, 2020). See also UNIDIR, Gender and Disarmament

Resource Pack and Emile LeBrun, ed., Handbook—Gender-Responsive Small Arms Control: A Practical Guide (Geneva: Small Arms Survey, 2019).

  • See UN General Assembly A/Res/67/48 (2012); A/Res/68/33 (2013); A/Res/69/61 (2014); A/Res/71/56 (2016); A/Res/73/46 (2018); and  A/Res/75/48 (2020).
  • See International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN), Gender and Nuclear Weapons (Vienna: ICAN, February 2020).
  • See Corey Levine and Sari Kouvo, “Gender, Human Rights and Security,” in Chantal de Jonge Oudraat and Michael E. Brown, The

Gender and Security Agenda: Strategies for the 21st Century (London: Routledge, 2020), pp.198–213. See also Christine Chinkin, Gender and the Arms Trade Treaty: A Legal Overview (Geneva: WILPF, 2012).

  • See Article 7, para 4 of the ATT. See also United Nations Regional Centre for Pace and Disarmament in Africa, Gender Dimension of the Arms Trade Treaty (Lome, Togo: UNRCPD in Africa, 2016); International Gender Champions and Control Arms,  Gender in the Arms Trade Treaty (Geneva:  IGC, 2016).
  • See, for example, Lawrence S. Wittner, “Gender Roles and Nuclear

Disarmament Activism,” Gender and History, Vol. 2, No. 1 (April

2000), pp. 197–222; Jacqui True and J. Ann Tickner, “A Century of

International Relations Feminism: From World War One Women’s Peace Pragmatism to the Women, Peace and Security Agenda,” International Studies Quarterly, Vol. 62, No. 2 (2018), pp. 221–33.

  • In Fred Kaplan’s history of the bomb, only 7 women are cited as opposed to 246 men—that is, less than 4 percent. See Fred Kaplan,  The Bomb: Presidents, Generals and the Secret History of Nuclear War (New York: Simon and Schuster, 2020).
  • See Renata Hessmann Dalaqua, Kjolv Egeland and Torbjorn Graff Hugo, Still behind the Curve: Gender Balance in Arms Control, NonProliferation and Disarmament Diplomacy (Geneva: UNIDIR, 2019), pp. 22–24; Article 36, Women and Multilateral Disarmament Forums: Patterns of Underrepresentation, discussion paper (London: Article 36, 2015).
  • See Dalaqua, Still behind the Curve. p. 21. The authors also note that the smaller forums (less than 100 delegates) tend to be dominated by men; larger meetings (more than 100 delegates) generally attract a larger proportion of women (p. 11). See also Borrie, Gender, Development and Nuclear Weapons; Elizabeth Minor, Disarmament, Development and Patterns of Marginalisation in International Forums (London: Article 36, April 2016).
  • See Dalaqua, Still behind the Curve, pp.14–15.
  • Dalaqua, Still behind the Curve, p. 17.
  • See Millar, Gender Approaches to Cybersecurity. See also UNIDIR,

Gender and Disarmament Resource Pack; Deborah Brown and Allison Pytlak, Why Gender Matters in International Cyber Security (Geneva: WILPF, April 2020); Spencer Beal, Missing Figures: The Cybersecurity Gender Gap (Washington, DC: WIIS, February 2018).

  • See Dalaqua, Still behind the Curve, p. 37.
  • See Heather Hurlburt et al, The Consensual Straitjacket: Four Decades of Women In Nuclear Security (Washington, DC: New America, March 2019), p. 13.
  • The percentage of women experts working in specialized arms control and nuclear security think tanks is 30 percent—well below parity. See Chantal de Jonge Oudraat, Kayla McGill and Zi Xue, The WIIS Gender Scorecard: Think Tanks and Journals—Spotlight on the

Nuclear Security Community (Washington, DC: WIIS, September 8, 2020)

  • Ibid.
  • See UN General Assembly A/Res/65/69 (2010); A/Res/67/48 (2012);

A/Res/68/33 (2013); A/Res/69/61 (2014);  A/Res/71/56 (2016);  A/Res/73/46 (2018); and A/Res/75/48 (2020). In addition, the Genevabased Conference on Disarmament held its first informal meeting on gender and disarmament in August 2015. In May 2016 it held a second informal plenary on Women and Disarmament, in which delegations restated their support to increase the role of women in the disarmament field.

  • See United Nations Office for Disarmament, Scholarship for Peace and Security.
  • See UN Secretary-General, Securing our Common Future: An Agenda for Disarmament (New York: United Nations, October 2018).
  • See UNIDIR, Gender and Disarmament Resource Pack.
  • Since 1915, the Women’s International League for Peace and

Freedom (WILPF) and its disarmament program, Reaching Critical Will, have highlighted the gender imbalance in the peace and security field. WIIS has fought for greater participation of women in international security since 1987. In April 2019, the Ploughshares Fund, a US foundation focused on the elimination of nuclear weapons, committed $1 million to a Women’s Initiative Campaign to create greater gender diversity within the nuclear establishment. SeeTom Z. Colinna and Cara Marie Wagner, eds., A New Vision: Gender, Justice, National Security (Washington DC: Ploughshares Fund, April 2019). In February 2021, SCRAP, a campaign advocating for general and complete disarmament, launched a series of webinars highlighting female leadership in disarmament. The Vienna Center for Disarmament and Non-Proliferation launched in early 2021 an e-course on gender and disarmament. See also World Institute for Nuclear Security (WINS), Advancing Gender Parity in Nuclear Security, Version 1.0 (Vienna: WINS, March 2021)

  • See the mentorship and professional development programs of organizations such as Women In International Security (WIIS); Girls Security; Women of Color in Peace, Security and Conflict

Transformation (WCAPS); the Vienna Center for Disarmament and Non-Proliferation (VCDNP); or the International Affairs Institute in Rome, Italy (IAI).

  • In April 2021, heads of 69 organizations had joined GCNP and committed to “breaking down barriers and making gender equity a working reality in their spheres of influence.” Communications from GCNP. See also GCNP, Gender Champions in Nuclear Policy, Impact

Report 2019 (Washington, DC: NTI, May 2020). See also Pamela Hamamoto and Laura Holgate, “Gender Champions,” in Tom Z. Collina and Carie Marie Wagner, eds., A New Vision: Gender, Justice, National Security (Washington, DC: Ploughshares Fund, April 2019), pp. 40–45.

  • See Council on Foreign Relations (CFR), Women’s Power Index  (New York: CFR, April 2020). See also note 58.
  • The Leadership Council on Women in National Security (LCWINS) is tracking the appointments. As of April 2021, 36 percent of all appointments in the National Security Council are women. That said, as of April 2021, not all Cabinet and National Security Council positions had yet been filled. See
  • Carol Cohn, Felicity Hill and Sara Ruddick, The Relevance of Gender for Eliminating Weapons of Mass Destruction, No. 38 (Stockholm: The Weapons of Mass Destruction Commission, December 2005), p. 5. See also Carol Cohn, “Wars, Wimps, and Women: Talking Gender and Thinking War,” in Michael Kimmel and Amy Aronson, eds., The Gendered Society Reader, 5th ed. (Oxford: Oxford University Press 2014), pp. 448–57.
  • See Carol Cohn, “Sex and Death in the Rational World of Defense Intellectuals,” Signs Vol. 12, No. 4 (1987), pp. 687–718; Cohn et al., Relevance of Gender.
  • Cohn et al., Relevance of Gender, p. 4. See also Cohn, “Sex and Death.”
  • Ray Acheson, ed., The Nuclear Weapon Ban Treaty: A Resource

Guide for WILPF (Geneva: WILPF, March 2018); Ray Acheson, “The

Nuclear Ban and the Patriarchy: A Feminist Analysis of Opposition to Prohibiting Nuclear Weapons,” Critical Studies on Security, Vol. 7, No. 1(2018).

  • Lauren Wilcox, “Gendering the Cult of the Offensive,” Security Studies, Vol. 18 (2009), p. 225.
  • For a traditional explanation of the cult of the offensive, see Stephen

Van Evera, “The Cult of the Offensive and the Origins of the First World War,” International Security, Vol. 9, No. 1 (Summer 1984) pp. 58–107.

  • Wilcox, “Gendering the Cult of the Offensive,” p. 229.
  • See Hugh Gusterson, “Nuclear Weapons and the Other in the Western Imagination,” Cultural Anthropology, Vol. 14, No. 1 (1999), pp.111–143. 1999. See also Shampa Biswas, Nuclear Desire: Power and the Postcolonial Nuclear Order (Minneapolis, MN: University of Minnesota Press, 2014).
  • Gusterson, “Nuclear Weapons,” p. 130.
  • See Ray Acheson, “Impacts of the Nuclear Ban: How Outlawing Nuclear Weapons Is Changing the World,” Global Change, Peace and Security, Vol. 30, No. 2 (2018), pp. 243-250; Ray Acheson, “The Nuclear Ban and the Patriarchy: A Feminist Analysis of Opposition to Prohibiting Nuclear Weapons, Critical Studies on Security, Vol. 7, No. 1(2018).
  • See Biswas, Nuclear Desire; Nick Ritchie, A Hegemonic Nuclear

Order: Understanding the Ban Treaty and the Power Politics of Nuclear

Weapons, Contemporary Security Policy, Vol. 40, No. 4 (2019), pp. 409– 434; Jan Ruzicka, “Behind the Veil of Good Intentions: Power Analysis of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Regime,” International Politics, Vol. 55, Nos. 3-4 (2017), pp. 369–385.

  • Gusterson, “Nuclear Weapons.” See also Biswas, Nuclear Desire.
  • See Susan Wright, “Feminist Theory and Arms Control,” in Laura Sjoberg, ed., Gender and International Security: Feminist Perspectives (London: Routledge, 2009), p. 191 and p. 204.
  • See Ray Acheson, Banning the Bomb, Smashing the Patriarchy

Ted Talk—TedxPlacedesNationsWomen (Geneva: Pressenza, January 15, 2019). Acheson also talks about nuclear deterrence theory as pure gaslighting—in the sense that we are led to believe that these weapons are about keeping us safe, rather than about the fact that they can kill people on the planet many times over. See Ray Acheson, A Feminist Critique of the Atomic Bomb (Berlin: The Heinrich Böll Stiftung, October 12, 2018).

  • See Laura Sjoberg, Gendering Global Conflict, Towards a Feminist Theory of War (New York: Columbia University Press, 2013), p. 290. Sjoberg argues that systemic gender hierarchy is at once a structural feature of global politics (that is, it is constant and ordering) and a variable feature (that is it is accounting for when states fight and when they do not). Ibid., p. 99. “If gender is an ordering principle of the system, it specifies (in whole or in part), the war function of states, the distribution of (military and other) capacity between them, and the

(gendered) political processes of coemption among them.” Ibid., 

p. 105. Valerie Hudson has argued that the world order is not defined by anarchy but by the first political order—that is, the relationship between men and women at the household level. This subordinative, exploitative, predatory and violent order is the first political order that molds all other orders in society. It reproduces itself at the community, national, and international levels of analyses. See Valerie Hudson, Donna lee Bowen, and Perpetua Lynne Nielsen, The First Political Order: How Sex Shapes Governance and National Security WorldWide (New York: Columbia University Press, 2020) p. 48.

  • See for example Cynthia Enloe, Bananas, Beaches and Bases: Making Feminist Sense of International Relations (Berkeley, CA: University of California Press, 1990); J. Ann Tickner, A Feminist Voyage Through International Relations (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2014).
  • See Enloe, Bananas, Beaches and Bases.
  • See Nick Ritchie and Kjølv Egeland, “The Diplomacy of Resistance; Power, Hegemony and Nuclear Disarmament,” Global Change, Peace & Security, Vol. 30, No. 2 (2017), pp. 121-141.
  • See de Jonge Oudraat, McGill and Xue, WIIS Gender Scorecard (2020)

By Katelyn Jones and Julia Whiting

In October 2020, Chicago was headed toward an increase of at least 51 percent in the murder rate and a 52 percent increase in shootings by the end of the year, compared to

2019.1 The city’s advocates and social service providers projected that COVID-19 will also increase domestic violence, which is often referred to as the shadow pandemic.2 Researchers and policymakers are at a loss to explain the spike in homicides and gun violence in Chicago and other cities around the country, and thus cannot come up with clear suggestions on how to reduce these trends.3

Many Chicago nonprofit organizations are actively working to mitigate violence. A cursory review of prominent programs addressing gun violence in Chicago reveals that most focus their efforts on one type of actor: men, specifically cis men of color. The vast majority of these programs ignore how women are affected by and participate in violence.4

We argue that understanding the gendered dynamics of conflict helps us better understand increasing rates of violence and ways to mitigate it. A review of the data reveals that gun violence in the city is highly correlated to domestic violence, including sexual and gender-based violence (SGBV). Areas with increased rates of domestic There is a distinct lack of research examining the links between SGBV and urban gun violence in the United States generally. This absence of a gender lens for examining violence stands in stark contrast to what we have learned in conflict-affected countries around the world. Applying a women, peace and security lens to US urban violence can produce a better understanding of what factors contribute to spikes in violence in US cities and what could be done to mitigate them. As with any armed conflict, one cannot fully understand it without recognizing women’s and men’s experiences of it.6

violence also experience higher rates of gun violence.5 These trends indicate the need for more careful attention to the role of gender in the rising violence in Chicago: how and why women and men participate in violence, how and why women and men are victims of violence, and how gun violence intersects with other forms of violence—especially intimate-partner violence.

In this brief, we first justify our interpretation of Chicago’s gun violence as a form of armed conflict and explain how the women, peace, and security (WPS) lens can aid in its analysis. Second, we share results of a data analysis in which we map the prevalence and interconnectedness of domestic violence and gun violence across the city. We use domestic violence as a proxy to assess SGBV, as domestic violence measurements are the only available data that capture SGBV in Chicago. Third, we recommend shifts in data collection, research, and policies to take gendered dynamics into account and motivate more effective programming in Chicago and elsewhere.

Gun Violence as Armed Conflict

We maintain that gun violence in Chicago constitutes an armed conflict for two reasons. First, it meets the baseline intensity and organization requirements for armed conflict classification in Common Article 3 and Additional Protocol II (APII) of the Geneva Conventions.7 Responses to gun violence have met the APII intensity requirement because military forces—not just police—have been deployed to mitigate and prosecute the violence.8 It has also met the organization requirement, as 61 percent of Chicago’s homicides are connected to gangs.9 Moreover, long-standing control over distinct territories, specifically neighborhoods on the south and west sides of the city, is maintained by prevalent gun violence.10

Second, Chicago is described as a war zone in popular narratives. In 2009, local rapper King Louie coined the term Chiraq, equating Chicago with armed conflict in Iraq.11 The nickname gained popularity as a commentary on pervasive gun violence experienced by many communities. Chi-raq was also the title of a 2015 film adaptation of Aristophanes’s Lysistrata set on Chicago’s South Side.12 Although thearchetype of women withholding sex from men to achieve peace does not accurately represent women’s experience of gun violence in Chicago, the continued comparison of Chicago to widely acknowledged sites of armed conflict is noteworthy. These narratives elucidate how popular descriptions of Chicago as a war zone produce meaning and justify actions, including the involvement of federal forces to combat Chicago’s gun violence. 13

Recognizing gun violence in Chicago as armed conflict enables us to examine its gendered dynamics through the lens of the women, peace, and security (WPS) agenda. Applying a WPS framework in our analysis means that we evaluate gun violence with special attention to the different ways men and women experience armed conflict in the city. Moreover, we examine how different experiences of gun violence are connected to other types of violence, especially SGBV.

Mapping Gun Violence and SGBV

Scholars and policymakers have yet to adequately evaluate connections between SGBV and gun violence in Chicago, despite evidence that they are related. Between 2016 and 2019, shootings in which a woman was the victim increased 13.5 percent each year.14 Police typically described these victims as connected to a “gang lifestyle,” but some were also described as victims of crimes of opportunity, armed robberies, arguments that became violent, or domestic violence. There is also evidence that SGBV is more prevalent in Chicago neighborhoods with significant rates of both crime and poverty. Between 2002 and 2016, four neighborhoods in Chicago with the highest homicide rate also had the highest sexual assault rate. For example, West Englewood reported  50 homicides and 42 sexual assaults in 2016.15

While there is a paucity of research on these dynamics in Chicago, an ever-growing body of literature examines these dynamics internationally in conflict-affected settings. For instance, societies in other parts of the world that have higher levels of gender-based violence within households have been found to be more likely to engage in violent group interactions.16 Thus SGBV can be a useful predictor of violence outside of homes, and it suggests that these dynamics likely exist outside of conventional conflict areas. The 2020 US WPS index examines women’s status along the interconnected dimensions of inclusion, justice, and security at the state level. The report found that states that do well in one of these dimensions also do well in the others and vice versa, suggesting that systems of (dis)empowerment often reinforce each other.17

To analyze the relationship between Chicago’s gun violence and SGBV systematically, we mapped and compared the prevalence of both throughout the city. In particular, we asked: Do the same areas of the city have high levels of gun violence and SGBV? Or would the two variables appeared geographically unrelated?

We used citywide data on gun violence and SGBV over the same period. For data on gun violence, we used the city of Chicago’s Data Portal, which provides data on calls to the police (excluding homicides that include identifiable data for either victim or perpetrator) from 2001 to the present. The best publicly available data source for SGBV (and the only citywide source for domestic violence data) is the Chicago Police Department’s (CPD) Domestic Violence Quarterly Statistical Report, which maps average daily calls to the police by police district for domestic disturbance, domestic battery, or violation of orders of protection during January 2014–September 2014.18 This report, therefore, includes domestic violence that might not necessarily be considered SGBV—such as elder abuse—andit is limited to crimes reported to the police. Because SGBV in particular is typically underreported, the report likely undercounts incidents of SGBV.19 While using domestic violence data as a proxy for SGBV’s prevalence in Chicago is not ideal, it is the best option at present.

Using R, we entered these daily averages as a new dataset in order to compare it with CPD crime data from the Data Portal.20 We filtered the raw CPD data by month to include only 1 January–30 September 2014. Within this time frame, we tallied all gun-related calls to the police, excluding possession, sale, or registration offenses, by police district. The remaining crimes are categorized in the database as assault, battery, robbery, sexual assault, and reckless or unlawful use of a

Table 1: Average Daily Domestic Calls and Total Gun-Related Calls to Police per Chicago Police District,  January 2014-September 2014
   Average Daily
Police DistrictTotal Gun CallsDomestic Calls
          6401-500 30-39
         20                    <100                      1-9
Source: Domestic Violence Quarterly Statistical Report,  Chicago Police Crime Data

firearm. This approach was meant to isolate incidents of gun violence, which has some drawbacks. First, some crimes in the CPD database, such as aggravated vehicular hijacking, may have but did not necessarily include a gun. Second, while illegal weapons sales are not directly harming someone, they contribute to an environment of armed conflict. Third, because homicides are not included in the data, a fatal dimension of gun violence is not included. Fourth, some crimes included in our measure of gun violence could also be considered SGBV. In particular, criminal sexual assault with a gun (total count: 50) and aggravated domestic battery using a handgun (total count: 3) are both included. While it is likely that many of these crimes also count as SGBV, we cannot be sure, as we do not have detailed information about these crimes.

We sorted each district’s total gun-related calls by the  hundreds to create a categorical scale similar to the average daily domestic violence calls. Initially, we calculated each district’s daily average calls to the police regarding gun  violence to compare with the daily average calls to the police regarding domestic violence. Those averages were too small  for meaningful analysis—no district averaged more than  3 calls per day. Because of this, we opted to calculate total gun violence calls per police district instead. This suggests that, while gun violence in Chicago gets more publicity, domestic violence occurs much more frequently. Total gun calls to the police and daily average domestic violence calls per district are sorted by number of gun calls in descending order (table 1).

Table 1 and Figure 1 show that the districts with more gunrelated calls generally have more domestic violence calls. A few stand out: District 8 has the 10th highest number of

Figure 1: Police Districts with Higher Numbers of Gun Calls Tend to Have Higher Daily Rates of Domestic Violence Calls

<100                     101-200                201-300                301-400               401-500                  500+

Gun Calls

gun-related calls out of 22 districts but a relatively high average number of domestic violence-related calls. Districts 2, 5, 15, and 25 have lower daily domestic violence call averages but higher numbers of gun-related calls. Police District 7 has the highest number of gun-related calls and the highest daily average domestic violence calls to the police. This district includes West Englewood, one of four neighborhoods with the highest homicide and sexual assault rates from 2002 to 2016.21

We then created maps demarking CPD district boundaries that show ranges of gun-related calls to the police (figure 2) and daily average domestic calls (figure 3). To visualize  the relationship between gun violence and SGBV,22 we overlaid the hexcodes for the corresponding green and  blue for each district to get a combined map (figure 4).  The darker shaded districts have higher instances of both  gun violence and SGBV. These districts are concentrated on the South and West sides of the city, areas shaped by decades of racist housing and economic development policy.23  This analysis illuminates not only the interconnectedness  of gun violence and SGBV but also the critical need to address them concurrently in policies that take the city’s history into account.

Figure 2: Gun-Related Call Events to Chicago Police by District

Year to Date September 2014  

Source: Chicago City Data Portal

Figure 3: Domestic Violence Calls in Chicago by Police District

Year to Date September 2014  

Source: Chicago Police Department Quarterly Domestic Violence 

Statistical Summary

Figure 4: Overlaying the Maps for Gun-Related Calls and Average Daily Domestic Violence Calls Shows that Districts with High

Rates of One Type of Violence Tend to Have High Rates of Both

Source: Chicago City Data Portal and Chicago Police Department Quarterly

Domestic Violence Statistical Summary


In this brief, we have pointed to gun violence’s connections to domestic violence and SGBV. Our analysis underscores gun violence’s existence amid and in relationship to broader systems of violence. It also highlights the need for data disaggregation about violence to better understand the prevalence of SGBV. Much more needs to be done to address violence’s gendered dynamics and the ways that systems of violence intersect in Chicago. As such, we have several recommendations for policymakers, program directors, and researchers:

First, we recommend that policymakers and programs increase funding and support for women-focused efforts in existing gun violence programs. Programs must recognize men and women as differently involved in systems of violence and work to address the interconnectedness of these systems, especially SGBV.

Second, Chicago’s domestic violence data need to be disaggregated by type of violence—for example, separating elder abuse from spousal abuse—as well as by gender. This disaggregation is necessary to accurately assess the prevalence of SGBV in the city.

Third, data should track citywide experiences of violence per community area rather than police district.24 The  city’s 77 community areas are generally comparable to Chicago neighborhoods and have remained mostly unchanged since the 1920s, whereas police districts may touch multiple neighborhoods and may change in response to funding or other concerns. Tracking SGBV  by community area over time would build a more nuanced understanding of violence in the city than is currently possible.

Fourth, we encourage WPS practitioners to consider more carefully how a WPS framework can be applied to more local contexts, rural and urban. Some work has already been done on this regarding local action plans, especially in post-conflict settings, but we recommend this work be broadened to consider the gendered dynamics of violence in settings like Chicago that do not necessarily fall within WPS practitioners’ conventional understanding of armed conflict.25

The authors are especially grateful to Rashelle Brownfield and Nicole

Mattea for their research assistance. We also thank Mia Diaz and Tria Raimundo for their time spent providing feedback on earlier versions. Additionally, we are most thankful for Olivia Shinner’s help with research, revisions, and imagining what this project would look like. Lastly, we are grateful to Chantal de Jonge Oudraat for her insights and support.


  1. Patrick Smith, “20% in 2020: Setting Goals for Reducing Murder in

Chicago,” WBEZ: NPR Chicago (January 28, 2020). See also Chicago Police Department, “CompStat Week 43: Report Covering the Week of 19-October-20 through 25-October-20” (Chicago: Chicago Police Department, October 27, 2020).

  • Kate Thayer, “ ‘Abuse Doesn’t Stop in Times of Pandemic’: Domestic Violence Advocates Trying to Serve Survivors during Coronavirus Pandemic,” Chicago Tribune (March 19, 2020).
  • Matt Ford, “What’s Causing Chicago’s Homicide Spike?” The Atlantic (January 24, 2017); see also Stef W. Knight and Michael Sykes, “The

Deadliest City: Behind Chicago’s Segregated Shooting Sprees,” Axios, August 14, 2018. This year, many cities have seen a summer spike in homicides, which experts are attributing in part to the COVID-19 pandemic. In Chicago, this is occurring on top of persistently high numbers. See Thomas Fuller and Tim Arango, “Police Pin a Rise in Murders on an Unusual Suspect: Covid,” The New York Times, October 29, 2020.

Up in Chicago’s Violence,” Chicago Tribune (June 28, 2019); Safia Samee Ali, “Sexual Violence Victims in Chicago’s Deadliest Neighborhoods Carrying Trauma on Top of Gun Crime,” NBC News, May 28, 2017.

  • See, for example, Sara E. Davies and Jacqui True, The Oxford

Handbook of Women, Peace, and Security (Oxford: Oxford University

Press, 2019); Cynthia Enloe, Bananas, Beaches, and Bases: Making Feminist Sense of International Politics (Berkeley, CA: University of California, 2014[1989]); Jean Bethke-Elshtain, Women and War (Chicago: University of Chicago, 1995[1987]).

  • International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), Geneva

Convention Relative to the Protection of Civilian Persons in Time of

War (Fourth Geneva Convention), August 12, 1949, 75 UNTS 287;

ICRC, Protocol Additional to the Geneva Conventions of 12 August

1949, and Relating to the Protection of Victims of Non-International Armed Conflicts (Protocol II), June 8, 1977, 1125 UNTS 609. There is precedence for such an expanded definition of armed conflict. See Anna Applebaum and Briana Mawby, Gang Violence as Armed Conflict: A New Perspective on El Salvador (Washington, DC: Georgetown Institute for Women, Peace, and Security, 2018).

  • NPR, “Strike force Is Created to Combat Chicago Gun Violence,” Weekend Edition Saturday, July 1, 2017.
  • ABC News, “Hidden America: Don’t Shoot, I Want to Grow Up,” October 18, 2011.
  • Jen Christensen, “Tackling Chicago’s ‘Crime Gap,’ ” CNN, March 14, 2014.
  • Derek Alderman and Janna Caspersen, “What’s in a Nickname? In the Case of Chiraq, a Whole Lot,” American Association of Geographers Newsletter (Washington, DC: American Association of Geographers, March 4, 2015).
  • Manohla Dargis, “Review: Spike Lee’s ‘Chi-raq’ a Barbed Takedown of Gang Wars, With Sex as the Weapon,” The New York Times, December 3, 2015.
  • Annick T.R. Wibben, Feminist Security Studies: A Narrative Approach (New York: Routledge, 2011), p. 2.
  • Gorner and Lee, “Women Increasingly Caught Up in Chicago’s Violence.”
  • Ali, “Sexual Violence Victims in Chicago’s Deadliest Neighborhoods.”
  • Valerie M. Hudson et al., “The Heart of the Matter: The Security of Women and the Security of States,” International Security 33, no. 3 (2009): 7–45.
  • Georgetown Institute for Women, Peace, and Security (GIWPS), The Best and Worst States to Be a Woman: Introducing the U.S. Women, Peace, and Security Index 2020 (Washington, DC: GIWPS 2020).
  • Chicago Police Department, Quarterly Domestic Violence Statistical

Summary—YTD September 2014 (Chicago: Chicago Police Department, 2014). It includes crimes not covered under the Illinois Domestic Violence Act (which is included as a variable in the citywide crime data), making it impossible to replicate the report using what is publicly available. Further reports have not been released.

  1. Based on the 2018 survey, less than half (43 percent) of violent victimizations were reported to police, which was not statistically different from 2017 (45 percent). Criminal Victimization Report, 2018 (Washington, DC: US Department of Justice, September 2019).
  2. To perform the analysis, we used R packages tidyverse, ggplot2, sf, rgeos, rdgal, RColorBrewer, and readr.
  3. Ali, “Sexual Violence Victims in Chicago’s Deadliest Neighborhoods.”
  4. This was difficult using ggplot, the package used to generate the initial maps. To get around the package’s limitations, we created an index to track the hotline call average and number of gun-related incidents for each district.
  5. Eve L. Ewing, Ghosts in the Schoolyard: Racism and School Closings on Chicago’s South Side (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2018); Arnold R. Hirsch, Making the Second Ghetto: Race and Housing in

Chicago 1940–1960 (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2009); Sylvia Hood Washington, Packing Them In: An Archaeology of Environmental Racism in Chicago, 1865–1954 (Lanham, MD: Lexington Books, 2004).

  • A good example of what this could look like is the Sinai Community Health survey (Chicago: Sinai Health System, 2016), reports available at
  • See, for example, Roslyn Warren et al., Women’s Peacebuilding Strategies amidst Conflict: Lessons from Myanmar and Ukraine (Washington, DC: GIWPS, 2017).