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CSW Update

19 March 2014

It has been an exciting week and a half in New York with the 58th Commission on the Status of Women (CSW).

Photo of the WILPF delegation at CSW 2014
WILPF delegation at CSW 2014

The WILPF delegation of over 60 women from around the world has done amazing work in bringing attention to the need for sustainable peace and development that addresses the root causes of violence and war and integrates issues of disarmament, women’s human rights, and Women, Peace and Security (WPS).

WILPF’s panels showcased the powerful voices of women working for peace, disarmament, and women’s rights around the world in panels that were often packed – standing (or sitting!) room only.

No Development Without Disarmament

WILPF’s “No Development without Disarmament” and related events brought regional and global perspectives  together to show the critical need to design the Post2015 development agenda to prevent conflict and promote peace.

“This war economy is not taking us anywhere,” said Rehana Hashmi of WILPF Pakistan.

“The Post2015 agenda will have a gaping hole without disarmament,” said Sarah Boyd of WILPF Australia. 

From Bosnia to Syria: Women Lead to Peace

At WILPF’s “Bosnia to Syria” event, participants shared experiences from the workshops WILPF has held bringing Syrian and Bosnian women together to learn from each other’s experiences and strengthen women’s participation and rights in peace processes.

Photo from a WILPF side event at the CSW 2014
WILPFs many side events during the CSW were well attended.

“Imagine how amazing it is to meet women who live the same experiences, including one woman who lost fifty family members,” said WILPF partner Narwal Yazeji, of the Syrian Women’s League (SWL).

“Working with Syrian and Bosnian women reaffirmed by faith in humanity. It has been so powerful,” said WILPF Secretary General Madeleine Rees. 

Leveraging Innovation and Partnerships for Change

At WILPF’s event on access and technology which launched the expanded PeaceWomen application mobile on Women Peace and Security (WPS), participants highlighted the need to leverage innovation, partnerships, and ideas to strengthen impact and change.

“To create change, you have to build a model that makes the old system obsolete,” said WILPF partner Ghida Anani, of ABAAD.

WILPF PeaceWomen Programme Director Maria Butler described how PeaceWomen envisaged a world where Security Council diplomats made better policy by using the tool of a mobile application. She called on attendees to push the boundaries to ensure a holistic implementation of the Women, Peace and Security agenda.

Negotiations on the CSW Outcome Document Face Challenges
Photo of people sitting around a table
Maria Butler, Programme Director at PeaceWomen, speaking at one of WILPFs many side events

Negotiations of the Agreed Conclusions outcome document of the Commission on the Status of Women (CSW) is currently facing challenges in moving forward on both women’s human rights and peace in addressing existing Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) and the upcoming Post2015 Sustainable Development agenda.

It is critical that this CSW provides the momentum to strengthen momentum to address key women’s rights and peace gaps evident in both of these areas. 

What can you do? 

In terms of the development agenda, you can push your government to recognize that conflict and war are an obstacle to development and peace. Ask them to commit to strong financing and accountability mechanisms for strengthening gender equality in development, including reducing military financing toward gender equitable social development.

In terms of the crisis in Syria, pressure your government to support a full ceasefire, to enable the local civil society brokering of peace. And advocate for the UN and member states to support a gender advisor for Special Representative for Syria Lakhdar Brahimi. 

Stay involved!

Thanks to everyone who has joined us in our #100Women4Peace photo campaign! There are still a few days left if you’d like to share a photo of yourself saying why you support our movement, Women’s Power to End War.

If you participated in CSW this week, what did you think of it? Please share your experience in the comments below!

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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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