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A Feminist Peace Process: Yemen’s Future Is in Women’s Hands

In July 2019, we brought together a group of diverse Yemeni women leaders in Amman, Jordan, for a 5-day convening that aimed to support an inclusive Feminist Peace Process in Yemen. Over the 5-day convening in Amman, 36 Yemeni women leaders were able to meet, strategise and share information in the safety of a feminist space, where trust could be built, information exchanged and different approaches to women’s inclusion could come together.

Image credit: WILPF
WILPF International Secretariat
31 July 2019

Yemen is now entering into its fifth year of war. Tension and instability have struck the country since the uprising in 2011.

It is not new that while armed conflicts impact women disproportionately, they remain massively under-represented in the attempts to bring the conflict to a close. Yemen is no exception. In the 2018 Peace talks that took place in Stockholm, the percentage of women negotiators was 4% . This is far below what is deemed fair, equitable and influential in terms of bringing women’s priorities and concerns to the process and guaranteeing its success and sustainability.

WILPF has, from the beginning, been closely monitoring and working to influence these peace talks in an effort to address the issue of women’s under-representation and to address the disproportionate impact of the conflict on women and girls. 

Gathering women’s expertise to discuss feminist peace in Yemen

Women listening and speaking at the conference

In July 2019, we brought together a group of diverse Yemeni women leaders in Amman, Jordan, for a 5-day convening that aimed to support an inclusive Feminist Peace Process in Yemen.

While many means of digital communication have become available, it is still so important to bring women leaders and activists together in person.  Over the 5-day convening in Amman, 36 Yemeni women leaders came from the North and South of Yemen and the diaspora despite tightened security measures and mounting challenges to women’s movement. The participants were able to meet, strategise and share information in the safety of a feminist space, where trust could be built, information exchanged and different approaches to women’s inclusion could come together. 

The convening was led by WILPF and Peace Track Initiative with active contributions from the Netherlands Institute of International Relations: Clingendael Institute, Office of the Special Envoy of the Secretary-General to Yemen, and Madre. 

Creating dialogue between local and international actors

The convening was built on a participatory process where consultations led by Peace Track Initiative were held with partners to identify training needs and other requirements. Among the issues partners highlighted, there was an interest in the work of the United Nations Security Council Sanctions Committee and the Group of Eminent Experts. To accommodate this request, representatives of the United Nations Security Council Sanctions Committee and the Group of Eminent Experts were invited to lead a session with the partners during the first and second day of the convening. 

A photo taken during the conference of a woman speaking

The convening was also a rare opportunity for the participants to advocate and raise awareness about issues faced by Yemeni women activists. They had the opportunity to share their perspectives and concerns with diplomats, international stakeholders and representatives of relevant UN agencies working on Yemen. Together, they discussed how the cooperation between grass-root organisations and international stakeholders can be beneficial for building sustainable peace. The public sessions lead by Yemeni participants included issues of: opportunities and bottlenecks in Track I diplomacy, localising the peace process: lessons learned from Taiz and Hodaida, releasing the detainees between the UN led process and the local efforts, and the South issue: between the national dialogue and the current peace process.

The convening also included a customised capacity building element based on the consultation process developed with Clingendael Institute, which aimed to improve their negotiation skills through workshops and trainings. In the context of simulated peace talks, they used their deep knowledge and experiences from the ground to discuss feminist approaches to peace such as fostering collective ownership. 

WILPF in Yemen

This meeting was the first stage of a two-year project led by WILPF and our Yemeni partner, the Peace Track Initiative, with the generous support of the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Norwegian Agency for Development Cooperation (NORAD). The project is part of WILPF’s Middle East and North Africa (MENA) approach through which we seek to preserve and grow the movement for feminist peace in the MENA region to achieve a peaceful and stable region where women’s rights and gender justice are upheld.

WILPF has been working in Yemen since 2012. Since then, we have supported the work of local grassroots organisations on the ground, as well as advocacy work to ensure Yemeni women’s voices are brought to the peace process and to the international fora. It includes supporting partners in the preparation of UN submissions, like the Universal Periodic Review, and promoting their participation during UN side events, humanitarian pledges and peace talks.

To learn more about our partner, Peace Track Initiative, visit their website

To learn more about WILPF’s work in Yemen, visit our website female wrestling

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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.

Melissa Torres

VICE-PRESIDENT

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

VICE-PRESIDENT

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

PRESIDENT

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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Demilitarisation

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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