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A Call for a Peaceful Feminist European Union

Members of the WILPF Sections in Europe met this weekend in Brussels, to discuss crucial issues related to the upcoming European Parliament elections happening from 23 May to 26 May 2019.

Image credit: Charlotte Hooij
WILPF International Secretariat
17 April 2019

Members of the WILPF Sections in Europe met this weekend in Brussels. The main goal was to discuss crucial issues related to the upcoming European Parliament elections happening from 23 May to 26 May 2019. In particular, members exchanged their national experiences and explored possible solutions for a peaceful feminist Europe.

Challenging Militarism

WILPF has for the past 100 years worked for sustainable peace. Since gaining suffrage, women, from all around the world, have always chosen peace over war. We currently perceive the EU on the opposite spectrum of its founding principles of human rights, peace, equality, and justice.

The EU is not only relying more and more on militarism, but it is also closing its borders, and excluding non-Europeans from the EU. WILPF Sections in Europe also expressed their concerns on nuclear armament, migration and asylum policies, and climate change. For these reasons, the European Sections are appealing to Members of the European Parliament (MEPs) and in particular to the candidates to the elections, to stop militarisation, to relocate its resources and military funds to social services like education, healthcare, and pensions, and to eliminate war from among its instruments of foreign policy. The EU’s focus should be on peace, on the wellbeing of its people, and on sustainable living for all.

Group of activists from WILPF Sections discussing together, with computers in front of them.
Photo credit: Charlotte Hooij

Furthermore, the EU must effectively enforce the principles of equality before the law and non-discrimination as per the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the EU. Despite, in theory, these principles holding mandatory legal value, in practice, as Jennifer Menninger, from Young WILPF Germany highlighted, this is not seen, and not everyone has equal access to claim their rights.

Working towards a Feminist Europe 

At the meeting, it was also discussed how gender equality has not been reached notwithstanding it being an EU founding target. Despite women accounting for over 50% of the world population, at the European Parliament in 2018, female MEPs only accounted for 36.1%. In European national parliaments, only 3 of 28 Member States have over 50% of female parliamentarians, and another three have equal numbers of female and male parliamentarians.  This is not good enough. WILPF European Sections demand the EU to work harder to achieve gender and workplace equality, by ensuring the full inclusion and participation of women in conflict resolution and peace talks but also in all our communities, states and international organisations.

Heidi Meinzolt and Lina Hjärtström showing the letter to the candidates of the European Parliament.
Photo credit: Charlotte Hooij

Concretely, the Sections want MEPs to reaffirm their commitment to bring about democratic governance at both EU and national level, and make the EU an international body capable of guaranteeing EU law and international human rights standards. WILPF remains convinced that the achievement of peace, and the achievement of equality and justice for all people, together with the full inclusion and representation of women in all our diversity, are inseparable goals.

The members of the European Sections have put these concerns and demands on a letter addressed to the candidates in the European Parliamentary elections. The letter is a call to future MEPs to uphold the EU’s original values of solidarity, equality and justice.

Stronger together

Group of activists from WILPF Sections discussing together, with computers in front of them.
Photo credit: Charlotte Hooij

During the weekend Heidi Meinzolt, Representative for the European region, made a presentation about the project Women Vote Peace and its upcoming event in Zurich. Also, the Young WILPF Network met with members of Young Feminist Europe, a platform that aims to amplify young feminist voices and activities across Europe, through both digital and grassroots activism. They have created a campaign in the run-up to the EU elections, to encourage women to vote but also to provide digital visibility to female EU candidates.

Together, we can all work towards a peaceful feminist Europe.

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WILPF International Secretariat

WILPF International Secretariat, with offices in Geneva and New York, liaises with the International Board and the National Sections and Groups for the implementation of WILPF International Programme, resolutions and policies as adopted by the International Congress. Under the direction of the Secretary-General, the Secretariat also provides support in areas of advocacy, communications, and financial operations.

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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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