WILPF Advocacy Documents


Stop War in Syria

11 January 2013
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When there is conflict it is important that WILPF, not only pays attention, but takes action. On Syria we are doing both. The following is a statement, written by our president, Adilia Caravaca, to remind us of the need to advocate for peace and end conflict. 

Stop war in Syria, let dialogue prevail. Solidarity with Syrian women.

War increases its toll in Syria as latest UN estimates 60,000 deaths in the 21 months of war, and foresee that 50,000 additional deaths may occur in the months to come.  This is ongoing, while nearly a million persons are  in Refugee camps. Conditions are harsh food and water are scarce, and the cold winter temperatures oscillate around 2°C Fear and want is entrenched in daily life.

It is hard to imagine the situation there, where  casualties, atrocities, bombings, fires have been destroying the lives of loved one, homes, buildings, infrastructure, historical monuments and communities with all ruthlessness. Yet, we all, women and men around the world, who have pledged to work for peace, must try to understand and relate to this situation; send our message of solidarity and strengthen our call to stop this war. As Jane Addams once said: “We do think it is valuable to state a new point of view.  We do think it is fitting that women should meet and take counsel to see what may be done” .

Recalling Jane Addams speech at the closing of the 1st International Congress of Women (The Hague, 1915) stating that  “the solidarity of women” would hold because  “spiritual internationalism… surrounds and completes our family (and national) life”, and there are “universal emotions which have nothing to do with natural frontiers” and she called on women to “dig new channels” for internationalism and solidarity to flow.

Keeping in mind the complexity of the internal conflict, the many forces involved, the enormous war corporate interests that arm the different factions at war, governmental and non-governmental; regardless of the narratives and intentions of the belligerent forces in Syria, women now, as those of the 1915 1st Congress for Peace, can state “(The Congress) therefore urges the governments of the world to put an end to this bloodshed, and to begin peace negotiations. It demands that the peace which follows shall be permanent and therefore based on principles of justice”.

Women must be active participants in peace negotiations and in post conflict reconstruction, as peace workers with full agency and rights. It is not the role of women to simply manage the crisis in existing wars, or carry out the tasks of cleaning up the mess and re-building after the destruction of wars.

WILPF was created to actively engage in international relations as agents to prevent or end wars – to continuously address the root causes of wars, to ensure peace is based “on principles of justice”.

Expressing our solidarity with the fellow human beings involved in this conflict, especially the civilians, men and women, suffering immensely, under this war and the humanitarian crisis it has caused; being aware of the differentiated and acute way violence is perpetrated against women in such context; the Women´s International League for Peace and Freedom call civil and governmental organizations around the world to raise their voices in calling for:

1)     A ceasefire to enable initiatives for dialogue to be fully supported by the Security Council. The ongoing mediation and diplomatic activities of UN and Arab League, lead by Lakhdar Brahimi, must be a priority and the participation of women in all parts of this process must be assured.

2)     Respect international humanitarian law and the obligations regarding the protection of civilians and the creation of safe corridors for the delivery of humanitarian assistance and to enable women, children and other civilians to seek safety.

3)     An arms embargo: and we urge you to write letters to our national authorities, missions in U.N. and the UN Security Council President: to call all UN member States for an arms embargo on all involved in this conflict.

4)     Advocate with donors and humanitarian agencies to ensure the humanitarian assistance is both sufficient and appropriate to the context, in particular from a gender perspective.

WILPF is also engaging in concrete ways with partners in the region to find ways to address the situation, as we did and are still doing with our MENA Agenda 1325 project

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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