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A day with WILPF at the Global Summit to End Sexual Violence in Conflict

12 June 2014

WILPF has been extremely busy at the Global Summit to End Sexual Violence in Conflict hosted by the UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office in London this week.

Apart to catching sneaky selfies with Angelina Jolie, WILPF has hosted three side events with a delegation of over 30. One of the volunteers, a law student in the UK, Chiara Cordone has written about her time with the WILPF delegation and the summit.

Tuesday 10th of June 

As your average undergraduate student, it will come as a surprise to no one that I do not like early mornings. However I found myself awake and on the train at an ungodly hour (7:00 am) for once without the slightest shred of resentment.

The subject matter of the Global Summit to End Sexual Violence in Conflict is hardly a topic for joy but I fear I cannot keep the glee from my voice when describing my first day there with Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom (WILPF).

I have a particular interest in international humanitarian law (IHL), and intend to hone my studies to its application in conflict with a gender perspective. The summit could be phrased as a once in a life time experience. It is, it would be even if I were simply attending as a member of the public, but I am lucky enough to be here with WILPF which has made it all the more fascinating. Perhaps this will explain my contentment and even excitement at being up in the early hours.

WILPF delegation
WILPF Orientation

Listening to their orientation meeting gave me a small glimpse of the colossal work that has been done, in terms of sheer organisational power to get women from all over the world to come as delegates, along with the masses of work being done on the ground.

As I watched in awe, I couldn’t help feeling similarly to when I was a small child and would wish to be a grown up so I could do things like stay up past bed time and watch TV after 9pm. I wished to be done with school and be a member of such organisations like WILPF. I’m hoping this will be the first step.

The most striking thing for me, has been working with a group that is all women. It surprisingly refreshing. Perhaps the highlight of Tuesday was WILPF’s panel discussion on the violence in Syria. I have attended various events through my university about conflicts, where the gendered aspect of the violence is often ignored, or given a cursory mention by usually a male academic.

This is not to say that these people have nothing of value to say, but at the summit and being able to see experts, who are Syrian women, working in Syria (or on Syria in neighbouring Lebanon) is quite something else. Testimony, analysis, and discussion, all done by Syrian women speaking on behalf of themselves was more compelling than anything else I have heard or seen on the subject.

The discussion went deeper than merely the fact of violence, into the way it impacts women who are not direct victims as well, that such pervasive violence has a profound effect upon everyone.

The event discussed women’s roles in preventing and ending violence in their own communities, which I had not yet heard commented upon in any formal forum. The work that WILPF and it’s partners have been doing in this area is clearly singular and invaluable.

Another event I attended at the ‘Fringe’ section of the summit was the first part of a mock trial of UN Security Council Resolution1325, tone of the first that established the Women, Peace, and Security agenda.

Aside from the official events, watching WILPF backstage as it we’re has so far been fascinating. Seeing the inner workings of an organisation like WILPF, from how it’s members from all over the world coordinate and relate to each other, the logistics of organising 30 delegates, down to making tuna and mayo wraps with them for lunch, has been eye-opening and enjoyable.

I hope that I can help in at least a small way for the WILPF members during the summit, but one cannot help but feel humbled when watching them work, they truly are an incredible organisation. I return excited to continue working with WILPF at the summit, to learn and see more about a subject that is not only dear to my heart but of immense importance to the global community. And I am still delighted to be getting up so early.

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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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