Gender and Diversity in Mine Action Publications, and Obama’s Visit to Lao PDR

With this year’s publication of the 7th annual Cluster Munition Monitor (CMM) report, GMAP wishes to highlight the importance of considering gender and diversity when collecting data and reporting on cluster munition victims. The 7th annual Cluster Munition Monitor (CMM) report was published on 1 September 2016 and brought updates and developments on the cluster […]

With this year’s publication of the 7th annual Cluster Munition Monitor (CMM) report, GMAP wishes to highlight the importance of considering gender and diversity when collecting data and reporting on cluster munition victims. The 7th annual Cluster Munition Monitor (CMM) report was published on 1 September 2016 and brought updates and developments on the cluster munition ban policy, survey and clearance of remnants, as well as efforts made to guarantee the rights and meet the needs of cluster munition victims.

Along with the report came the most recent available numbers on victims of cluster munitions: the vast majority of casualties are civilians. More specifically, children under the age of 18 accounted for more than 40% of all cluster munition casualties between 2010 and 2015. In 2015 alone, civilians made up 97% of casualties, while children accounted for 36% of all civilian cluster munitions casualties.  Sex was not recorded for more than 50% of reported cluster munitions victims. Where it was documented, women and girls were found to make up 23% of civilian casualties. No data was available on indirect victims, families and communities of survivors and people killed by cluster munitions.

injuried woman, income generating

Despite improvements on data collection practices, the 7th CMM report notes that far too many casualties from cluster munitions remain underreported. Lack of consistency in the availability of data makes it hard to assess trends in the number, age, and sex of casualties over the years. Data collection is a vital part to understand who the cluster munition victims are and to assess their situations in order to identify the type and nature of the assistance they need. Without complete, accurate, sex and age-disaggregated data on cluster munition victims, both national and international organisations lack information that proves crucial when establishing inclusive, efficient and effective risk education and victim assistance programs.

Last week, the report by Mine Action Review titled Clearing Cluster Munitions Remnants 2016 was also launched, during the Sixth Meeting of States Parties to the Convention on Cluster Munitions at the UN in Geneva. The report details the survey and clearing of cluster munitions of states parties and states not party to the Convention on Cluster Munitions. It provides information on the extent of contamination, programme management, compliance to the CCM and land release for 32 states and other areas. Unfortunately, gender and diversity aspects of the land release programmes are entirely overlooked, apart from some age and sex disaggregated data on cluster munitions victims. Gender and diversity considerations are crucial to ensuring that the concerns, priorities, needs and capabilities of women, men, boys and girls from diverse groups are fully integrated in mine action programs.

The week was also marked by President Obama’s visit to Laos, one of the most heavily contaminated countries in the world. During his visit to Lao PDR, Obama pledged $90 million to help Laos with the removal of unexploded munitions.3 The United States flew hundreds of thousands of bombing missions over Laos during the Vietnam War, dropping an estimated 260 million tons of bombs. Most of them were cluster munitions. It is believed that around 30% of them did not detonate on impact. They still pose a risk today, decades after the end of the war, as they continue to make victims. The Landmine and Cluster Munition Monitor reports that unexploded submunitions have caused 7,591 casualties between 1964 and 2013. Today, Lao PDR estimates that there are still some 2,500 survivors of unexploded submunitions. GMAP has been working with the stakeholders of the UXO program in Lao PDR to make sure that gender and diversity considerations inform policy, programming and implementation of activities, ensuring that they benefit ALL.