WILPF Advocacy Documents


Statement on the Use of Explosive Weapons in Populated Areas and the Distinct Impacts on Women in Syria

Chemical Weapons | Explosive Weapons | Health | Human Rights | Human Rights Violations | Migration and Displacement | Women’s Human Rights
23 June 2015
Document type:
Body submitted to:
Human Rights Council

The international community’s inability to stop the war in Syria and the increased militarisation and proliferation of arms fostered a fertile ground for extremism. To deal with this devastating phenomenon, it is the causes, rather than the consequences, that must be tackled.

The extensive use of explosive weapons by the Assad regime to impose corporal punishment on entire communities continues to be the greatest threat to civilians and have unique impacts on women.

The Assad regime doubled the use of explosive weapons on populated areas in 2014; meanwhile, more Syrians are being killed in their homes than on the frontlines and half of the global casualty by explosive weapons in the world between 2011-2013 took place in Syria.

In terms of casualties, explosive weapons were behind 74% of the death of girls in Syria. Beyond that, the consistency of such attacks left women confined to their houses and sacrificed their rights to education, employment and freedom of movement.

At least 83 health facilities were targeted and destroyed in the past year. This deliberate destruction of infrastructure and health facilities entails devastating repercussions on women. The lack of access to reproductive health can be a death sentence, whereby 80% of maternal mortality could be prevented if only better access to health care was provided during pregnancy and childbirth.

We call the international comminute to take up their role to stop this deplorable war and to protect the civilians of Syria. This requires taking efforts beyond humanitarian assistance into solid and timely actions towards a political solution while posing an unwavering control of the export of arms to all warring parties in Syria.

The use of explosive weapons in populated areas occurs in many conflict zones in addition to Syria, such as Yemen, Ukraine, Iraq, and countless others. This is why in addition to confronting the bombing of towns and cities in each context we need to develop an international commitment to stop the use of explosive weapons with wide area effects in populated areas.

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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