WILPF Advocacy Documents

Ensuring Women and Gender are reflected in the Cluster Munitions Treaty

9 May 2015
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Ensuring Women and Gender are reflected in the Cluster Munitions Treaty
Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom

As the world’s oldest women’s peace organization, the Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom (WILPF) brings over 90 years of work towards disarmament to the campaign to ban cluster munitions. WILPF welcomed the signing of the February 2007 Oslo Declaration and has since closely monitored efforts to develop an international convention.

Our members looks towards the May 2008 negotiations in Dublin with hope and expectation for a strong and clear Treaty that a) contains a total ban on cluster munitions, b) supports the clearance and reconstruction efforts in all affected communities, and c) provides comprehensive assistance to victims of these indiscriminate weapons.

WILPF strongly believes there is a need for greater awareness of the unique problems facing women in affected communities – in barriers to medical care and risk awareness programs, social stigmatization and psychological trauma, divorce and abandonment, providing for dependents with little access to employment, and risks of extreme poverty.

WILPF therefore calls for the inclusion of a specific reference to UN Security Council resolution 1325 on Women Peace and Security in the preamble of a treaty on cluster munitions, in addition to the reference to the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, already included in the present draft. This will help ensure that gender mainstreaming and gender balance issues are duly considered in the formulation and implementation of cluster munitions policies and programs at all levels.

Men, women, girls, and boys are affected differently by the presence of cluster munitions in their communities, with women and girls often disproportionately affected. Experiences from the landmine process have shown that women are less likely to receive medical care, prostheses, and access to mine risk education. Women victims face divorce, abandonment, or stigmatization. Even when they are not victims themselves, the loss of a male relative or husband has severe economic consequences for women in many affected communities.

Gender influences the role an individual plays in their community, in their social and economic activities, and their likelihood of becoming a cluster munitions victim as well as their access to medical attention and risk education and awareness programmes. Data should be disaggregated by sex and age, in order to gain a more comprehensive and representative picture of the effects of cluster munitions on all individuals in affected countries. Women should have equal access to risk education programs.[1]

WILPF calls for the definition of cluster munitions victims to include both direct and indirect victims; persons injured and maimed, as well as their families, and their local community.  A broad definition will facilitate the development of programs that reach women, who all too often risk becoming “invisible” secondary victims. Implementing gender perspectives and considerations in the process will improve the effectiveness of a future instrument and its ability to protect civilians.  

Prohibiting cluster munitions resonates deeply within communities of activists promoting women’s rights and human rights as well as disarmament. Governments can depend on strong civil society support for their efforts to ban cluster munitions, a weapon that causes indiscriminate harm and leaves a legacy of mutilation and death long after conflicts are declared over.

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Thank you!

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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