WILPF Advocacy Documents

Bosnia and Herzegovina, Syria

Message of Solidarity and Support to the Syrian People

Women’s Participation
18 December 2013
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Photo Source: Flickr/gnuckx

We send this message of solidarity and support to those women, and men, who are organizing for peace. We want to share our experience with you, and work with you to make your voices heard, to insist on peace and justice and demand a society grounded in equality and respect for human rights!

As we met here in Sarajevo at the conference on Women organizing for Change in BiH and Syria we felt compelled to send our words of solidarity to those women and men that are struggling for peace in Syria.

We are acutely aware of the need for peace talks on Syria that must include Syrian women who by now have not been included in the process, even though they are active, prepared and representative.

Twenty years ago we experienced the hell that is war. In our attempts to stop it, we demonstrated, we showed solidarity across the rapidly dividing lines, we called for peace – but we failed! The men who wanted power, at any cost, unleashed untold violence on ordinary people and we were powerless to stop them. For the four years of the war, we tried to keep communities together but when the Peace Agreement came we were ignored and excluded. We were transformed from activists, survivors and women who wanted a new future, to passive victims, without a role in determining the future of our country. As a result, we continue to struggle to be heard, our rights subjugated to nationalisms and corruption.

With despair we see it now happening in Syria – the displacement, disappearances, torture, sexual violence, the killing of loved ones. We hear from our sisters in Syria that they too are being transformed into collective victims with no agency, their rights denied to them, and their voices excluded by the warring parties and by UN and the international community, and that their participation in any political process is not being taken seriously.

We welcome willingness of United Kingdom, France, Canada, Norway, UNHCR, and OCHA to open space for Syrian women to have meaningful participation and enter peace negotiation process. We urge UN and world governments to act decisively and follow the example of the United Kingdom in demanding and ensuring women’s active participation in the process and a seat at the main table of negotiations.

When Dayton Peace Agreement was negotiated the obligations under UN SCR 1325 did not exist but even now in the current process of reforms and constitutional changes the citizens of BiH are excluded from deciding about themselves, while the complete absence of women is even more symptomatic. Our experience makes a compelling case for immediate, direct and meaningful inclusion of Syrian women in the peace talks.

Thus, we are requesting the international community to start implementing UNSCR 1325 and to ensure full participation of women, in the true spirit of the resolution that calls upon involvement of women in peace-making, peace-building and post-conflict reconstruction.

We warn that failure to do this will delegitimize the whole process in the eyes of the Syrian society as it did in the case of Bosnia and Herzegovina.

We send this message of solidarity and support to those women, and men, who are organizing for peace. We want to share our experience with you, and work with you to make your voices heard, to insist on peace and justice and demand a society grounded in equality and respect for human rights!

We stand with you in solidarity, women from Bosnia and Herzegovina!




Sarajevo, 18 December, 2013

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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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