WILPF Advocacy Documents


Statement on the Integration of the Human Rights of Women and the Gender Perspective Violence against Women

Human Rights | Sexual and Gender-Based Violence | Women and Girls’ Human Rights
16 December 2004
Document type:
Body submitted to:
Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights

Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom, World Young Women’s Christian Association, Women’s Initiatives for Gender Justice Mr. Chairman, I speak on behalf of Women’s International League for peace and Freedom, the World Young Women’s Christian Association and the Women’s Initiatives for Gender Justice. During the High Level Segment the question of violence against women was officially raised by almost every state and in this occasion we would like to address the question of Violence Against Women in armed conflict.

First of all, we would like to welcome the appointment of Justice Louise Arbour as High Commissioner for Human Rights. We hope she will make significant changes in addressing the issue of violence against women in armed conflict after having played a significant role in the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda and the Former Yugoslavia. Being aware of the weaknesses of those tribunals, we assert that sexual violence should not be used as a tool for genocide or ethnic cleansing while perpetrators go unpunished. Article 38 of the Vienna Declaration and Program of Action adopted by the World Conference on Human Rights states that ‘violation of human rights of women in situations of armed conflict is a violation of the fundamental principles of International Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law.’

Women are not only victims but also negotiators, peacemakers and advisors. We call upon states to take action to eradicate gender-based violence in armed conflict as well as prevent conflict itself. One of the most important ways to realize this is to support and strengthen women’s active participation in peace building processes. We urge all States to enforce and implement the UN Security Council Resolution 1325 (adopted in October 2000) within their domestic legislation. We believe that its implementation would recognize women’s capabilities, create understanding of their role in the international arena and enable them to contribute their skills and competence in conflict resolution. This could only be achieved by increasing the number of women in decision and policy-making levels to 50% as has already happened in Norway and Finland.

Gender based violence in armed conflict and specifically, rape, as a weapon of war is not a new phenomenon. It has existed and still continues: Algerian women raped by French soldiers, Vietnamese women by Americans, the comfort women from Korea, China and the Philippines who were used as sex slaves by the Japanese military during the Second World War, the rape of Somali women refugees in Kenyan camps, Kuwaiti women by Iraqi forces, the rape of Bosnian women by Serbian forces, Burundi women raped by rebels and military forces…. just to name few.
In order to stop impunity of sexual violence during armed conflict, we recommend the following:

That states which have not yet ratified the Rome Statutes of the International Criminal Court do so as a matter of priority,

Provide adequate training for personnel investigating sexual violence and gender-based crimes, and ensure the prosecution of these crimes through the International Criminal Court,

Ensure legal representation, protection, safety and privacy of victims and witnesses in addressing and prosecuting gender based crimes,

Make the process of reparations comprehensive and gender inclusive in the awarding of compensation for victims of sexual violence and gender based crimes.

Amend the Fourth Geneva Convention relative the Protection of Civilians to recognize sexual violence, particularly rape, as a grave breach of the laws of armed conflict.

There are economic, political, social and legal consequences of rape and other forms of sexual violence in armed conflict such as the stigmatisation of the victim, forced pregnancy and abortion, loss of property, separation of families and sexually transmitted diseases such as HIV/AIDS. In addition, armed conflict has greatly increased poverty, the economic marginalisation of large numbers of people and communities as well as the loss of dignity of individuals, especially women. In view of this we recommend that concerned governments create gender sensitive programmes of rehabilitation, reconstruction and reintegration as well as ensure access to health care and education for women.

Last but not the least we would like to note with concern the discriminatory treatment given to the conflict in the former Yugoslavia and Rwanda which was carried on in the process and coverage of the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia and the International Tribunal for Rwanda. The genocide in Rwanda has cost the lives of almost a million people and the rape of more than 250, 000 women. Despite the horrors and atrocities perpetrated during the conflict the international community had turned a blind eye and acted only too late.

Armed conflict, wherever it happens, have the same serious consequences on the lives of individuals, families and whole societies. The international community should do everything in its power to prevent conflict and address its root causes. Where conflicts erupt, in whichever part of the world, it should act with vigilance and in its actions, reflect its commitment to uphold and ensure respect for human rights and dignity especially of the most vulnerable.

Thank you

Your donation isn’t just a financial transaction; it’s a step toward a more compassionate and equitable world. With your support, we’re poised to achieve lasting change that echoes through generations. Thank you!

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

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit. Mauris facilisis luctus rhoncus. Praesent eget tellus sit amet enim consectetur condimentum et vel ante. Nulla facilisi. Suspendisse et nunc sem. Vivamus ullamcorper vestibulum neque, a interdum nisl accumsan ac. Cras ut condimentum turpis. Vestibulum ante ipsum primis in faucibus orci luctus et ultrices posuere cubilia curae; Curabitur efficitur gravida ipsum, quis ultricies erat iaculis pellentesque. Nulla congue iaculis feugiat. Suspendisse euismod congue ultricies. Sed blandit neque in libero ultricies aliquam. Donec euismod eget diam vitae vehicula. Fusce hendrerit purus leo. Aenean malesuada, ante eu aliquet mollis, diam erat suscipit eros, in.


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.

Skip to content