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Design Development for Gender Equality and Peace

2 May 2014

On Thursday and Friday April 24-25th, WILPF advocated for a conflict prevention approach to development that promotes gender equality in the UN President of the General Assembly (PGA) debate on stable and peaceful societies in the Post2015 development agenda.

This debate is part of ongoing discussions around creating a new set of Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) or when the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) expire in 2015.

WILPF Side Event Highlights Arms Reductions, Women’s Participation as key to Peaceful Societies
Photo of Sharon Baghwan Rolls
Sharon Baghwan Rolls (FemLINKPACIFIC, Fiji), discussant at the PGA Thematic Debate on Peaceful and Stable Societies panel on “Strengthening national institutions towards achieving sustainable development”, April 24, 2014

WILPF co-sponsored a strategy meeting on strengthening peace through development. Participants called for an integrated approach to peace and development, including through including a stand-alone Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) on stable and peaceful societies and peace mainstreamed throughout the targets and indicators of all other goals.

One high level diplomat argued that, given the focus of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) on developing countries, current discussions on creating a new set of development goals (SDGs) provide the first ever opportunity for a universal development agenda that is by, for, and about all states.

WILPF highlighted how a target reducing military spending and an approach that builds on existing commitments including the Women Peace and Security (WPS) agenda would be critical for a universal agenda that addresses root causes of conflict in militarized inequality and promotes development and peace.

Women Leaders Shift the Conversation
Photo of Rosa Emilia Salamanca
Rosa Emilia Salamanca (Corporación de Investigación y Acción Social y Económica, Colombia), keynote speaker at the PGA Thematic Debate on Peaceful and Stable Societies, April 24, 2014

WILPF also worked with the Post2015 Women’s Coalition, Women’s Major Group, and Global Network of Women Peacebuilders to support three women peace leaders from Colombia, Sudan, and Fiji to participate in the official debate.

The presence of these three women as speakers in the debate was powerful: rather than individual tokens, their presence and voices together created a palpable shift in the substance and framing of the debate, and clearly illustrating the power of meaningfully including women peacemakers at tables of power.

Women’s leaders called strongly for the international community to invest in gender equality and peace through Sustainable Development Goals targets including reducing military spending, so as to reduce violence and free up resources for gender equality and peace.

Development must put People over Profit and those most Marginalized at the Mainstream

Rosa Emilia Salamanca of Corporación de Investigación y Acción Social e Económica (Colombia) provided a powerful keynote speech and called for gender equitable peace and development that women’s human rights defenders can “can see and feel.”

Photo of Nagwa Gadaheldam
Nagwa Gadaheldam (Global Partnership for Local Action, Sudan), panelist at the PGA Thematic Debate on Peaceful and Stable Societies panel on “Building Global partnership for ensuring stable and peaceful societies”, April 25, 2014

“These women, they have taught me that sustainable peace is only sustainable insofar as it is just, insofar as it respects the dignity of all,” Salamanca stated.

Sharon Bhagwan Rolls of FemLINKPACIFIC (Fiji) highlighted the importance of development that promotes human security and builds on women’s experiences.
“Through women’s eyes, there is a broader notion of security – one that is defined in human, rather than in military, terms,” Baghwan Rolls affirmed: “one where peace is possible because all citizens have faith in and are able to freely participate in the democratic process of institution and state building.”

Nagwa Gadahweldam of Global Partnership for Local Action (Sudan) demanded that the next development agenda “transform modes of exploitation to regeneration” and promote gender equality, development and peace.

A Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) on Stable and Peaceful Societies?

Member states are still discussing if and how to integrate peace in the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

WILPF welcomes the call by Timor Leste for a stand-alone goal on stable and peaceful societies with support from states including Papua New Guinea on behalf of the Small Island Developing States (SIDS) and Canada.

Photo of Abigail Ruane
Abigail Ruane (WILPF PeaceWomen Programme Manager) at WILPF co-sponsored reflection and strategy meeting on Stable and Peaceful Societies in the Post2015 Development Agenda, April 25, 2014

We also welcome calls, including by Tanzania, Kenya, Ecuador, and Cuba, to address militarization and arms including by reducing military spending.

It is critical to take a conflict prevention approach to development that addresses root causes, as recognized by the Common African Position, which includes a pillar on peace and security, as well as by the SIDS 2013 integrated cooperation framework.

Get involved!

Please ask your government to design development for peace! Demand a target reducing military spending, and ask for peace to be prioritized through a stand-alone goal and mainstreamed targets and indicators throughout all other goals.

Thanks to all of you who followed us on Facebook at Twitter via @Peace_Women  #DisarmSDGs. If you have been following along, what do you think? We welcome your thoughts 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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