Gender affects the fate of children in armed conflicts, which must be taken into account, says the UN

The study sheds light on the different risks that children of different genders face and how to reduce them.

“Through this initial study, we find that the integration of a gender perspective in the implementation of the mandate for children and armed conflict [Children and Armed Conflict (CAAC)] can contribute to a better understanding of the impact of invisible gender norms and inequalities when it comes to child protection, ”said Virginia Gamba, the UN Special Representative for Children in Conflict.

The prism of gender

According to the study, the title The gender dimensions of serious violations against children in armed conflict [Les dimensions sexospécifiques des violations graves contre les enfants dans les conflits armés]it is important to understand the interrelated nature of serious child abuse in order to develop holistic approaches to prevention and responses appropriate to age and gender.

“The study further shows that devoting sufficient resources to analyzing serious violations from a gender perspective can help highlight how gender is instrumentalised in different conflict contexts – and ensure that we are better equipped to respond to and prevent serious violations,” added Mrs Gamba. .

The report calls for the support of the UN and its partners on the ground to provide adequate resources and capacity to analyze serious violations against children from a gender perspective.

It provides hard evidence and highlights how children are affected differently by conflicts based on their gender and other identity-based characteristics, including ethnicity, race, religion, economic status and education, sexual orientation.

“For example, the proportion of girls in armed groups tends to be greatly underestimated because girls are generally less visible than boys and are often released informally, blocking their reintegration and ultimately influencing the number of girls recruited and used, ”explained the senior official.

© UNICEF / Kristina Pashkina

Two 14-year-old children play on the swings of their former school in Kharkiv in northeastern Ukraine, destroyed by bombing.

Follow-up is crucial

In recent years, significant progress has been made in compiling gender-disaggregated data in most of the countries on the agenda.

However, a thorough gender analysis requires more than numbers, the Special Representative’s Office notes.

Data alone will not improve our understanding of the risk factors – individual, group or environmental – that make children victims in different ways, nor the profile and motivation of perpetrators.

The document argues that the greater the UN’s monitoring capacity on the ground, the better it will be able to conduct gender analysis and integrate a gender perspective into its monitoring, reporting and response to serious violations.

This analysis could also inform international politics, advocacy and accountability.

Call for support

Ms Gamba called on the international community to continue to provide political and financial support for greater expertise in child protection on the ground.

Integrating a broader gender perspective into the program for children and armed conflict will enable responses to serious violations to be more context-specific and inclusive for different sections of the population, which will support and strengthen the mandate and expand its partnerships, Ms Gamba said.

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