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Celebrating Eleonore Romberg’s 100th Birthday: A Century of Peace Activism in Life and Memory 

WILPF is celebrating the 100th birthday of the late Eleonore Romberg, former WILPF Germany President, WILPF International Secretariat Vice-President and President  — an iconic figure in our history whose legacy continues to inspire and guide our movement today.

Image credit: AddF Kassel
WILPF International Secretariat
19 June 2023

A staunch feminist peace activist and German sociologist, Eleonore devoted nearly half a century to advancing the mission of WILPF as she tirelessly pursued a future of peace, equity, and justice in the wake of the Second World War. We remain deeply grateful for her extensive contributions to building the movement and connecting local and global activism — a cornerstone of WILPF’s work in the 21st century. 

As we celebrate Eleonore’s life and legacy, we’re taking a look back at her remarkable story.

Who was Eleonore Romberg?

Born in Münich on 19 July 1923, Eleonore was one of five siblings in a working-class family.  She dreamed of attending university but was denied the opportunity as her mother and stepfather prioritised her brother’s education. In 1940, that same brother was killed while serving in the German Air Force. 

While living under the Nazi regime during the Second World War, Eleonore realised the urgent need to take action for peace and freedom and began campaigning for an end to the war, women’s human rights, and social justice. Following the war, she became a vocal critic of the remilitarisation of West Germany — an anti-militarist stance that soon brought her into contact with WILPF Germany in 1956. 

An active and dedicated member of WILPF Germany, Eleonore’s involvement quickly led her to become the Section’s President. She took on increasing responsibilities within WILPF’s International Secretariat and was elected as Vice-President in 1971. In 1972, she assumed the role of WILPF’s President, serving two separate terms from 1972-1974 and 1986-1992.

A lifelong devotion to the cause of peace 

As Eleonore continued developing her interest and involvement with the feminist peace movement, in the 1960s she decided to pursue the university education that she’d been denied as a young woman. 

She studied sociology, philosophy, and psychology, and wrote her master’s thesis on the socio-psychological situation of women at her university. She eventually became a sociology professor at the Catholic University of Applied Sciences in Münich. 

In addition to her work in academia, Eleonore remained focused on building connections between peace activists across borders and promoting local to global activism. She dedicated much of her time to forging links between East and West Germany, and later on worked to connect women peace activists in Latin America to WILPF’s movement. In recognition of her incredible efforts, Eleonore was awarded the Bavarian Peace Prize by the German Peace Society. 

Determined to create meaningful change, Eleonore never stopped working for peace. She remained deeply committed to the cause until her death in August 2004 and was posthumously named the Honorary President of WILPF Germany

Learn more! 

Eleonore’s extraordinary commitment to the cause of feminist peace had an indelible impact on WILPF’s mission and the development of our movement into the global force it is today. 

We invite you to join us in celebrating her remarkable life and a century of progress — both during and beyond her lifetime — by taking action for peace in her memory, whether big or small. You can also learn more about WILPF’s history and find out how you can get involved to carry forward Eleonore’s legacy. 

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WILPF International Secretariat

WILPF International Secretariat, with offices in Geneva and New York, liaises with the International Board and the National Sections and Groups for the implementation of WILPF International Programme, resolutions and policies as adopted by the International Congress. Under the direction of the Secretary-General, the Secretariat also provides support in areas of advocacy, communications, and financial operations.

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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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