WILPF Advocacy Documents


International Women’s Day Statement to the Conference on Disarmament

Women and Girls’ Human Rights
1 March 2006
Document type:
Body submitted to:
Conference on Disarmament

We were hoping to be able to read this statement to you in 2006 for the first time in the more than twenty years we have been presenting it to the CD. However, despite all the support we have heard over the past several weeks, apparently it is not yet possible to have a female civil society leader address you from the floor in a statement delivered once a year on the occasion of International Women’s Day. Although we are disappointed that we are unable to read our own statement, we see this as a testimony to the power of civil society and women’s NGOs in particular.  We would especially like to thank the Ambassadors and representatives who so eloquently spoke on our behalf to request the opportunity to address this forum ourselves.

International Women’s Day began in 1909 and has been directly linked with the engagement of women in political processes.  In the CD, only 13% of member state delegations are led by women.  This year, civil society around the world is marking International Women’s Day through protesting war, campaigning for Nuclear Disarmament and demanding equal participation in all levels of decision-making. As we have done since 1984, we are bringing the voices of women to the CD.

NGOs have long been called the conscience of the international community, but we also serve practical functions. Every week, we are in the gallery, listening to the public debates and then sharing them with concerned people around the world. We offer numerous resources to you – we act as a liaison to the public, as a source for technical expertise, and as archives and as institutional memory.

Our utility in these areas is widely recognized and we have formed fruitful collaborative relationships with governments over the years. It is time for you to formally recognize our work and explore best practices developed in other international security fora here in the CD. The CD will benefit from greater transparency and engagement with the outside world. We are happy to work with you to facilitate that.

Having watched this forum for decades, allow us to share some observations from the gallery. On the programme of work that has eluded you for the past nine years, we not only hear the most governmental support for the “5 Ambassadors’ proposal” to establish ad hoc committees on:

  • Fissile Material Treaty
  • Prevention of an Arms Race in Outer Space (PAROS)
  • Nuclear Disarmament
  • Negative Security Assurances (NSAs)

We have not yet heard a single plenary statement opposing it. We are told the CD is no closer to consensus, but not told why. The world would like to know who opposes the A5 proposal, and why, and what alternative suggestions will be made to achieve consensus on a Programme of Work.

We also have not heard a single state publicly oppose a Fissile Materials Treaty (FMT). If the only impediment to beginning negotiations is the CD’s inability to consense on a Programme of Work, then we expect we will see significant efforts, especially from the major stakeholders, to delve into the issues surrounding an FMT this year. The Presidents of the year have provided you with an excellent opportunity to investigate technical issues and explore convergence in areas of difficulty. Any serious examination will include technical experts from around the world and capitals. We expect to see members of the newly formed fissile materials panel here in May as well as experts from your capitals. We expect to see in-depth debate on verification and on existing stocks. We expect these discussions to act as pre-negotiations, to develop a framework for negotiations. We also expect these discussions to be of enough significance to regenerate confidence in the CD so negotiations begin as soon as possible.  The seriousness of this exercise will have a significant influence on the outside world’s opinion of the CD’s ability to work without help from other fora.

NGOs are ready to support and encourage all pre-negotiations and negotiations of an FMT. Our International Women’s Day seminar this year paid attention to an FMT, linking it to making progress on non-proliferation and disarmament. An FMT is verifiable, and verification is absolutely crucial to any effective disarmament and nonproliferation regime. We believe that just as the international community learned how to verify the CTB which was then negotiated, science will prove the verifiability of an FMT. We want you to begin negotiations as soon as possible, and if they begin before you reach consensus on verification, we are confident these issues can and will be worked out during negotiations.

We believe nuclear disarmament can and will be achieved.  We recognize there are challenges and setbacks in the process of achieving true international peace and security, but our confidence in this body to overcome those obstacles remains strong. 

Thank you.

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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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