Celebrating Feminists’ Voices, Inspiring Global Peace

Figures for 2015 Show Increase in Excessive Military Spending

5 April 2016
19. Public Manifestation:Mir Grebäck von Melen
Public manifestation in The Hague in 2015 highlighted the impacts of social versus military spending. Photo credit: Mir Grebäck von Melen.

The Stockholm Institute for Peace Research (SIPRI) today announced that global military spending totaled at $1676 billion in 2015, which represents an increase of about 1 % in real terms from 2014, the first increase since 2011. The figures again show that the world continues to waste far too much money on weapons instead of investing in peace.

The release of these figures marks the beginning of the Global Days of Action on Military Spending (GDAMS), a two-week campaign during which peace groups around the world hold events challenging excessive military spending and militarist cultures and calling for resources to be put towards more peaceful ends.

The trends

Much like last year, in 2015 the top 10 countries with the highest military spending are: United States of America, China, Saudi Arabia, Russia, United Kingdom, India, France, Japan, Germany, and South Korea.

SIPRI explains, “Military expenditure in North America and Western Europe fell again in 2015, but at a slower pace than in previous years. Military expenditure decreased in Africa, breaking an 11-year trend of spending increases. Spending in Latin America and the Caribbean also declined. In contrast, spending in Central and Eastern Europe continued to rise sharply. There were also substantial increases in Asia and Oceania and in those countries in the Middle East for which data is available.”

Making money

Inextricably linked with military spending is the irresponsible sale of arms, which exacerbates the humanitarian situation in conflict zones such as Syria, Yemen, and Ukraine, as well as situations of armed violence around the world.

A February 2016 Control Arms report found that a number of states parties to the Arms Trade Treaty (ATT) have reported licenses and sales to Saudi Arabia worth nearly $25 billion in 2015 including drones, bombs, torpedoes, rockets, and missiles. The bloody conflict in Yemen between the Houthi militia and the Saudi-led coalition has seen serious violations of international humanitarian law and international human rights law by all parties to the conflict. Continuing to sell arms to Saudi Arabia, the largest importer of arms in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region, is a clear breach of ATT states parties’ legal obligations under the Treaty.

You get what you pay for

For the first time SIPRI also published a background paper that discusses on the one hand government priorities comparing military and health expenditure (over the past 15-20 years) and on the other what could be achieved at the global level by moving the money towards the realisation of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

While the comparison of health and military spending shows a trend increased priority of states to public health expenditure over the past 20 years and a reduced priority to military spending, the Institute does not find that “the rise in health spending and decline in military spending as a share of GDP represents some sort of deliberate ‘peace dividend’ policy aimed at redirecting resources from the military to health.”

According to SIPRI, reallocating only around 10 per cent of world military spending as suggested by the Global Campaign on Military Spending to finance key SDGs “would be enough to achieve major progress, supposing that such funds could be effectively channeled towards these goals and that major obstacles, such as corruption and conflict, could be overcome.”

Move the money

Consequently, States should be investing in peace and humanitarian needs rather than overindulgent military spending and weapons trading. Finding alternative solutions to conflict means prioritising different approaches to our social, political, and military organisation. It demands diverting money from the military towards social and economic justice and equality.

The city of Cambridge in Massachusetts, USA, has decided to do just that. On 2 April, Mayor Denise Simmons announced that the Cambridge City Council has unanimously decided to divest their city pension fund from nuclear weapons production. This effectively removes US$ 1 billion from possible investment in the companies most heavily involved in producing and modernising nuclear weapons. This is a great example of actions that can and should be undertaken over the next two weeks and beyond.

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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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