Gender, development and nuclear weapons

ILPI Publications > Background Papers > ILPI-UNIDIR Joint Papers

Shared goals, shared concerns

October 2016

This study discusses the relationship between nuclear weapons and gender—how and why the two are connected, both to each other, and to shared global agendas such as sustainable development. Nuclear weapon detonations affect women and men differently, both in terms of the biological effects of ionizing radiation and the social, economic and psychological impacts of nuclear weapon detonations.

Applying a gender lens to nuclear disarmament gives insight into how ideas and policies related to nuclear weapons are gendered; that is, is underpinned by notions of masculinity and femininity. A gender perspective contributes to diversifying the debate on nuclear weapons and to challenging the established pattern of power relations, and is helpful in creating conditions for reaching the goal of a world free of nuclear weapons.

In spite of international agreement on the importance of women’s participation in decision-making, there is a gender imbalance in multilateral disarmament forums. This study presents new research on the topic, showing that men continue to be heavily over-represented and women are under-represented in multilateral forums concerned with security issues, including nuclear weapons. Men’s over-representation/women’s under-representation seems to be even more pronounced in forums concerned with security issues and disarmament than in others.

Failure to apply a gender perspective and lack of female participation may be factors contributing to the current lack of nuclear disarmament progress, and why other agreements to tackle global problems such as the Sustainable Development Goals) seem to be so often ignored or contradicted in the prevailing international policy discourse on nuclear weapons.

Download the full report here.