WILPF Advocacy Documents


Open Letter: Towards a Peaceful Europe in a Peaceful World

Disarmament | Human Rights | Justice | Militarisation | Nuclear Weapons | Participation | Racism | Women’s Human Rights
14 April 2019
Document type:
Open letter
Body submitted to:

Dear candidate to the European Parliamentary elections,

The stated goals of the European Union are to promote peace, its values and the well-being of its people. We, as members of the Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom (WILPF) in Europe, expect from the candidates for the European Parliament to uphold these goals.

WILPF works for sustainable peace grounded in equality, justice, and demilitarised security. Throughout our long history, we have consistently drawn attention to the links between systems of injustice, inequality, racism, militarism, and patriarchy as fuelling global and individual insecurity. The 19th century empires have largely disintegrated, but economic, military and cultural domination of some countries by others perpetuates colonial conditions.

We have continuously raised our voices against militarism that is damaging our societies, violating rights, irreversibly destroying our environment, and diverting money from social welfare. The current neoliberal policies impoverish, alienate and disempower people around the world. This disproportionally affects women.

Since the last European Parliamentary elections, we have been experiencing a backlash against democracy. This shift has been marked by closed borders, the normalisation of discrimination, stigmatisation, fear and hate. The public debate is increasingly polarised, and racist rhetoric, dehumanising of refugees and disinformation is spread. Nationalism is once again growing.

We are also seeing an increasing militarisation of the European Union. The Permanent Structured Cooperation (PESCO) and the European Defence Fund (EDF) are two examples of how the EU is expanding its common military capacity through research and development of new weapons systems. This is diverting resources from healthcare, education, pensions, and social welfare. Women are disproportionally affected by cuts in the public sector, both as employees and as those that will take on the burden of unpaid care work.

The current militarisation of the EU is in direct opposition to the goal of a peaceful and democratic Europe. The latter must be the highest priority of the EU and of the politicians that represent us in the European Parliament.

We expect the elected candidates to:

  • Initiate and support measures to reshape the EU foreign policy that engages with other countries on a platform based on solidarity, equality and justice;
  • Stop the militarisation of the EU borders and ensure safe, humane and dignified pathways into Europe;
  • Stop the development, production and transfer of arms, and ban lethal autonomous weapon systems in line with the European Parliament resolution 2018/2752(RSP);
  • Rally support for and push member states to sign and ratify the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons (TPNW);
  • Promote women’s rights globally by making gender equality the guiding principle of all EU external relations;
  • Ensure gender equal representation in all levels of decision-making and facilitate women’s political agency;
  • Fulfil EU’s commitments to implement the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) both in its internal and external policies;
  • Adopt economic policies and use gender budgeting that recognise and valorise women’s participation in the economy, and ensure equal access and ownership over resources and power.

Yours, in respect and solidarity,

Heidi Meinzolt and Lina Hjärtström

Members of the International Board, Representatives for the European region

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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