Celebrating Feminists’ Voices, Inspiring Global Peace

Address by WILPF International President, Adilia Caravaca

8 January 2014

Dear WILPF Women,

My best wishes to all with hope that we will continue to find joy in our work. As some say, “Activism is the price we pay for being here”. And, I would add, activism is a way of life that not only connects us with one another, but also with ourselves and with our earth.

This past year, we have witnessed that despite the United Nations’ many efforts to create instruments to prevent genocide and to make States accountable before the Human Rights Council and various Committees, horrific wars continue in many parts of our world. Unfortunately, the economy of militarism remains unchanged.

Under the committed leadership of our Secretary General and a good team of women, WILPF has been able to reach out and coordinate with Syrian women to have their voices heard in the peace negotiations expected to happen by the end of this month.  If, as is often the case in the past, these negotiations do not happen, new challenges will arise in stopping this horrific war and in supporting the women and civilian population in Syria.

I take this opportunity to stress that importance that Sections allow space to discuss the Manifesto draft, together with the observations by some members of ExCom who did not participate on its drafting, like myself, and the introductory letter written by Cynthia Cockburn. Please remember that the I. B. member of each section must send comments about it in February.

As agreed in the International Board meeting in Madrid, an ad hoc committee has prepared a number of proposals meant to adjust the organization according to new, developing needs. Some of these alterations might eventually require changes in our Constitution.  It is very important that Section members read and comment on the proposals before our next International Board meeting and before the deadline to receive proposals by the Constitutional Committee expires (deadline shall be announced by the Constitutional Committee).

The amount of material to read and the amount of political work in our countries is demanding, therefore, these documents have been sent on time. So please ensure your Section allocates enough time to discuss these documents, they are very important for the future of WILPF after its 100th years

Last, but not least, I want to congratulate our enthusiastic and committed staff for all the good work they have accomplished this past year. I am confident they will continue their professional work to support the organization.  The annual report and supporting materials including alerts and reminders regarding upcoming relevant events at the UN and Human Rights Council and other committees are all very helpful.

Yet, we must not be complacent. There is still a lot of work that must be done to strengthen our Sections so that they can successfully lobby their governments to ensure peace in many militarily intervened regions and bring the international agreements in UN and other bodies into practice at local level.  In the meantime, we celebrate all the good work achieved this past year. As a result of your efforts, WILPF is better positioned today to continue its mission work to stop wars and make positive peace.

— Adilia Caravaca, International President of WILPF

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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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