WILPF Advocacy Documents


Women’s Economic Empowerment in the Time of Financial Crisis

Economic, Social and Cultural Rights | Militarisation | Women and Girls’ Human Rights
8 March 2010
Document type:
Body submitted to:
The Commission on the Status of Women

Madame Chair, thank you for this opportunity. I direct my question to the whole panel,

Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom is an international women’s peace organization. We are one of the world’s oldest peace organizations with sections on all continents. We’ve been at it for soon 100 years and our goal then is as relevant today: To make known and abolish the root causes of war. We have been working for 1325 since 1915 so to say.

In connection to the discussions on economic crises and priorities, I would like to draw the panel’s attention to what budget areas are being cut and which areas are not. According to the Beijing Platform for Action, Focus area E on Women and armed conflict states are to:Undertake to explore new ways of generating new public and private financial resources, inter alia, through the appropriate reduction of excessive military expenditures, including global military expenditures, trade in arms and investment for arms production and acquisition, taking into consideration national security requirements, so as to permit the possible allocation of additional funds for social and economic development, in particular for the advancement of women;

For WILPF a just society is a core issue for creating sustainable peace. In some countries, the global financial crisis has resulted in a shift in priorities, with a decrease of funds to projects and programmes aimed at gender equality. Important parts of national budgets are being cut while the military spending keep breaking new records.

We all seem to agree that now more than ever, it is time to invest in women and girls. I am a young woman, daughter of a single mother, fortunate since I come from a country that provides me with free education for 17 years and I think I am a better investment than any tank or bomber.

Most women of the world are not given the same opportunity and that is a waste of resources. Investing just a fraction of the 1464 000 000 000 USD that is now invested in stealth bombers and Kalashnikovs would provide millions of women around the world with the equal opportunity that I have been given. One year’s military costs would finance 24 years of the additional foreign aid required to reach the MDG by 2015.

My question to the panel is: why do you think this aspect of the key passage of the Beijing Platform for Action is overlooked in macro economic discussions on women’s economical empowerment? There is a big elephant in this room, and it’s the political priorities that lead to ever-increasing military expenditures. What is it that stops you from looking at this elephant? What would it take to make this elephant visible and bring it into the conversation you are having with each other and with government leaders?

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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