October 13, 2022


Opening remarks by Maria Suokko, Resident Representative, UNDP Kosovo

Dear colleagues and partners, 

On behalf of UNDP, I am pleased to warmly welcome you today to this important training organized by SEESAC.   

The widespread availability and misuse of small arms pose severe threats to the safety and security in our region – just like everywhere else. 

Small arms fuel instability and negatively affect social and economic development. The high number of small arms, particularly those in illegal possession, enables violence and crime. 

It also makes our communities less safe, and last but not least, it makes our homes less safe.

Within this context, the rich research conducted by SEESAC helped us to better understand and respond to specific risks that women and men face when it comes to misuse of small arms. Particularly, the forms and extent of their exposure to armed violence.

From the perspective of gender equality, misuse of small arms increases gender inequalities and reinforces power imbalances between women and men. This is most evident in the context of violence against women. 
In Southeast Europe, 61% of all killed women were killed by a family member, and often with firearms. 

Firearms also affect men’s safety and well-being. Men account for the overwhelming majority of firearms owners and also dominate professions and activities which involve firearms.  Research has shown that masculine gendered norms and roles can, together with other factors, fuel demand for small arms and shape patterns of their misuse.  

Young men, in particular, tend to see firearms as a symbol of power and control. That increases their vulnerability and makes them particularly exposed to armed violence, both as victims and perpetrators.

If we are determined to reverse such trends, then we have to take into account the gender perspective when addressing numerous challenges related to small arms. 
Integrating gender perspective in small arms control efforts not only works for both women and men but increases the overall effectiveness of our work.  

I am confident that this training will help you not only to better understand the complexity of the problems but also show you the ways how to practically address it and make your work more effective.
I wish you successful work and inspiring training.