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Hague’s Broken Promises

19 June 2014















I sat in the glittery closing plenary of the Global Summit in London last week (June 10-13) , tired, saddened and outraged. I listened together with activists, governments and survivors, to the hallow words of the UK Foreign Secretary William Hague. He played to the crowd pleaser of participation, catching the interest of those who dedicated their lives to Women, Peace and Security, completely aware of the audience he would generate.

I sit listening and knowing that his promises have not translated to “practical action” (another sound-bite of the Summit hosts). I wondered as I heard the Foreign Secretary saying how saddened he was that women and women’s groups still have to ask to be included at the negotiating table. Continuing,“We should not have to be reminded, as governments, that women must have a seat in every forum of decision-making, and it should not be the uphill struggle that it is to overturn the habits of centuries and establish new precedents and norms for full female participation.”

I want to be optimist (because I am an optimist by nature) but I know what the reality is at this moment in Nigeria for example. Despite the using the right buzz words at the star studded Summit, combined with the immense mobilisation around #BringBackOurGirls, outrageously Nigerian women’s civil society and their voices were excluded from the Nigeria security meeting, held on June 12th in the margins of the Global Summit.

These Security meetings (May 17th in Paris and June 12th in London) with leaders from Benin, Cameroon, Chad, France, Niger and Nigeria, as well as representatives of the European Union, the United Kingdom and the United States aim to create a regional strategy to counter Boko Haram. We have called for these discussions to address root causes and include women’s participation, however neither of these important meetings have included women civil society- no women from Nigeria, and no representatives of the abducted girls.

Security Council Resolution 1325 at its core affirmed women’s participation in decision-making on peace and security and yet it is outrageous that its implementation is still failing. 1325 is failing the women of Nigeria.  It is vital women’s voices and gender perspectives are included now, not later. As Joy Onyesoh, the President of WILPF Nigeria said to me this week: “we –Nigeria women- have more on the ground experience, we live these realities, to us these are the issues we breathe, the fears we experience everyday. I expect women’s organisations from Nigeria and other countries involved be included from the onset of the regional security talks”.

WILPF and its partners worked tirelessly trying to shift the rhetoric to implementation in the weeks prior to June 12th meeting. Nigeria women met in Abuja, discussed, organised and drafted their messages to make the so-called commitments on Women Peace and Security work for them, for Nigerian women and sustainable peace in their communities.

We had just been through one of those “uphill struggles”, referred to by Hague, against his own UK Government. We reminded them again and again that they should include women and how best to do so. They agreed of course, but did they include women civil society? No. It wasn’t “appropriate”. Did they even keep their conciliation promise of distributing the Open Letter? No. As a total insult to our work and efforts, the UK did not even share, as promised, the specially drafted Open Letter from Nigeria women’s groups.

Today, the Chibok girls have still not been found or released despite Nigerian civil society and global efforts. How outrageous is it­ that speeches and celebrities are prioritised over substance, over reality, over implementation of already agreed upon commitments, over real meaningful participation! I am saddened because again the voices of women’s rights advocates are excluded, are disregarded, are forgotten. It makes our word in the women’s peace community more important than ever before.

Written by PeaceWomen Director Maria Butler

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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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