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2016 in Review: Amplifying Voices of Women Peace Leaders

30 December 2016
Hivin Kako, Executive Director of the Bihar Relief Organisation, speaks at WILPF and MADRE’s symposium during CSW 60 on March 15th. (Photo: WILPF/Marta Bautista)
Hivin Kako, Executive Director of the Bihar Relief Organisation, speaks at WILPF and MADRE’s symposium during CSW 60 on March 15th. (Photo: WILPF/Marta Bautista)

In 2016, WILPF continued to amplify the voices of grassroots women peace activists from the local to the global level and call for concrete action, especially in key gap areas of conflict prevention, disarmament, and financing. Our Women, Peace and Security team in New York have organised and co-hosted a variety of initiatives focused on feminist mobilising at the local level throughout the year.

Here are some few examples on our work:

In March, 40 WILPF activists from around the globe have joined our partners and other members of the feminist movement at the 60th Commission on the Status of Women (CSW) to advocate for transformational change that moves from a political economy of war to a political economy of gender justice, demilitarisation, and peace. In this vein, we co-launched a symposium that created space for civil society organisations to mobilise around recommendations from the Global Study and identify next steps for effective implementation of the Women, Peace and Security (WPS) Agenda.

In September 2016, WILPF delegation of 19 activists attended the 2016 AWID Forum in Brazil to build a common ground for a nonviolent world for all and share our messages about the importance of disarmament and peace for feminist futures. We contributed to six events including a Feminist Playbook for Peace and launched our #MoveTheMoney Toolkit during the forum. This toolkit includes a range of materials – including a motion graphics explainer video available in five languages – intended to boost action on Women, Peace and Security Financing.

At the 16th anniversary of UNSCR 1325, WILPF worked with grassroots partners and international policymakers to call for concrete action, especially on key gap areas of conflict prevention, disarmament, and financing. WILPF hosted and contributed to multiple initiatives and events along with our partners from the Middle East North Africa (MENA) region who highlighted regional patterns in how gender blind institutions with militarised responses result in ongoing challenges to women’s rights and their meaningful participation in peace efforts and provided strong recommendations for strengthening the implementation of UNSCR1325 in the region.

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Melissa Torres


Prior to being elected Vice-President, Melissa Torres was the WILPF US International Board Member from 2015 to 2018. Melissa joined WILPF in 2011 when she was selected as a Delegate to the Commission on the Status of Women as part of the WILPF US’ Practicum in Advocacy Programme at the United Nations, which she later led. She holds a PhD in Social Work and is a professor and Global Health Scholar at Baylor College of Medicine and research lead at BCM Anti-Human Trafficking Program. Of Mexican descent and a native of the US/Mexico border, Melissa is mostly concerned with the protection of displaced Latinxs in the Americas. Her work includes training, research, and service provision with the American Red Cross, the National Human Trafficking Training and Technical Assistance Centre, and refugee resettlement programs in the U.S. Some of her goals as Vice-President are to highlight intersectionality and increase diversity by fostering inclusive spaces for mentorship and leadership. She also contributes to WILPF’s emerging work on the topic of displacement and migration.

Jamila Afghani


Jamila Afghani is the President of WILPF Afghanistan which she started in 2015. She is also an active member and founder of several organisations including the Noor Educational and Capacity Development Organisation (NECDO). Elected in 2018 as South Asia Regional Representative to WILPF’s International Board, WILPF benefits from Jamila’s work experience in education, migration, gender, including gender-based violence and democratic governance in post-conflict and transitional countries.

Sylvie Jacqueline Ndongmo


Sylvie Jacqueline NDONGMO is a human rights and peace leader with over 27 years experience including ten within WILPF. She has a multi-disciplinary background with a track record of multiple socio-economic development projects implemented to improve policies, practices and peace-oriented actions. Sylvie is the founder of WILPF Cameroon and was the Section’s president until 2022. She co-coordinated the African Working Group before her election as Africa Representative to WILPF’s International Board in 2018. A teacher by profession and an African Union Trainer in peace support operations, Sylvie has extensive experience advocating for the political and social rights of women in Africa and worldwide.

WILPF Afghanistan

In response to the takeover of Afghanistan by the Taliban and its targeted attacks on civil society members, WILPF Afghanistan issued several statements calling on the international community to stand in solidarity with Afghan people and ensure that their rights be upheld, including access to aid. The Section also published 100 Untold Stories of War and Peace, a compilation of true stories that highlight the effects of war and militarisation on the region. 

IPB Congress Barcelona

WILPF Germany (+Young WILPF network), WILPF Spain and MENA Regional Representative

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WILPF uses feminist analysis to argue that militarisation is a counter-productive and ill-conceived response to establishing security in the world. The more society becomes militarised, the more violence and injustice are likely to grow locally and worldwide.

Sixteen states are believed to have supplied weapons to Afghanistan from 2001 to 2020 with the US supplying 74 % of weapons, followed by Russia. Much of this equipment was left behind by the US military and is being used to inflate Taliban’s arsenal. WILPF is calling for better oversight on arms movement, for compensating affected Afghan people and for an end to all militarised systems.

Militarised masculinity

Mobilising men and boys around feminist peace has been one way of deconstructing and redefining masculinities. WILPF shares a feminist analysis on the links between militarism, masculinities, peace and security. We explore opportunities for strengthening activists’ action to build equal partnerships among women and men for gender equality.

WILPF has been working on challenging the prevailing notion of masculinity based on men’s physical and social superiority to, and dominance of, women in Afghanistan. It recognizes that these notions are not representative of all Afghan men, contrary to the publicly prevailing notion.

Feminist peace​

In WILPF’s view, any process towards establishing peace that has not been partly designed by women remains deficient. Beyond bringing perspectives that encapsulate the views of half of the society and unlike the men only designed processes, women’s true and meaningful participation allows the situation to improve.

In Afghanistan, WILPF has been demanding that women occupy the front seats at the negotiating tables. The experience of the past 20 has shown that women’s presence produces more sustainable solutions when they are empowered and enabled to play a role.

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