Latest News

History Seminar in WILPF Norway

27 February 2014

On the 15th of February this year, WILPF Norway held a history seminar with its members. It was a long anticipated seminar and three key speakers were invited. The speakers were Mari Holmboe Ruge, Edel Havin Beukes and Elisabeth Kristiansen. We asked Elisabeth Kristiansen to write a report on the seminar.

Report from the history seminar by Elisabeth Kristiansen
Front cover of the booklet- for retfardig og varig fred
If you are curious about The Hague peace congress, then you can read the first 16 pages of the booklet distributed at The Hague (in Norwegian).

The first speaker of the day was Mari Holmboe Ruge. She has been a member of WILPF Norway since 1955, and her presentation was about the origins of WILPF Norway.

Mari started speaking about how the Norwegian Section of WILPF began in 1915 after a delegation of eight Norwegian women returned from an international peace congress in The Hague, the Netherlands, to Norway.

Before getting into more detail on the peace congress, Mari explained how the Norwegian delegation was formed and who were in it.

In Norway, women gained equal voting rights in 1913. This was a huge victory for Norwegian women, but even though they had succeeded, they continued their work as it was not enough that the women in Norway had the right to vote, their goal was that women all over the world should have the right to vote, so the Norwegian suffrage organisations joined the global suffragettes movement.

In 1914 there came a call for women to attend a meeting in Berlin to discuss women’s voting rights. However, with the outbreak of World War I the meeting was moved to the neutral country of The Netherlands at The Hague and the topic converted to a women’s peace congress.

A committee of individual women, many of them veterans from the Norwegian suffrage movement, were invited for a public meeting in Norway, and during this, eight Norwegian delegates were elected to go to the congress in The Hague.

To show that the peace congress had popular support, the Norwegian organisers managed to collect 24,000 names on a petition. These names were presented in The Hague. On the way, keeping in mind Suffragettes cartoon with text- Suffragettes who have never been kissedthat travelling during wartime from Norway to the Netherland’s was not easy, the Norwegian delegates met with delegations from Sweden and Denmark and the three delegations traveled together to The Hague. During the congress, the three Scandinavian delegations spoke together with one voice.


Norwegian women in the League of Nations

The second speaker, Edel Havin Beukes, spoke about the WILPF Congress in 1919 in Zürich where WILPF got its official name. The participants discussed among other subjects the Versailles peace conditions, which WILPF thought were very damaging for a peaceful future, and the establishment of The League of Nations (the latter equivilent, The United Nations).

WILPF Norway members sitting listening to presentation
Members of the Norwegian Section are listening intently at the speakers.

Edel mentioned the article ‘The League of Nations in the Norwegian fight for women’s rights’ written by a Norwegian historian. The article highlights that the women in the Norwegian delegation to the League of Nations were very interested in and experienced with international work. Two of these women, Martha Larsen Jahn and Johanne Reutz Gjermoe, were prominent members of WILPF Norway.

Both women were part of the Social Committee, but Johanne Reutz Gjermoe, who had excellent skills as an economist was also part of the Financial Committee.

The first three women in The League of Nations in 1920 were all from the Scandinavian countries and worked close together.

At The League of Nations, women were given a political arena where equal rights for men and women came on the international agenda. In 1935, Johanne Reutz asked for an initiative to investigate women’s roles in law, politics and economics. Similarly an Expert Committee was established to look at women’s position in national legislation in all countries.

The Norwegian women were also active in the work of establishing an Education Committee and an International Committee on Intellectual Cooperation and they engaged in the fight against trade of women and children and demanded better legal protection.

The role of women in the first half of the 20th century

I was the last speaker of the seminar and I spoke about World War I and the period leading up to the 1950s. My presentation was told through pictures showing how the suffragettes at the beginning of the 20th century were labeled ”bad mothers and women” and showing the 1.6 million British women working in the arms industry during World War I.

Cartoon of Stalin as a prompter In the end of the presentation, I spoke of the first US scare of the ‘reds’ with the Palmer arrests 1919 and the beginnings of Edgar J. Hoover career, and how this influenced the hunt for communists after World War II. Additionally, I spoke about the students at the Columbia University in New York who all through the 1930s had a campaign to stop the militarization of the youth.

2015 Manifesto

In 1915, the peace congress in The Hague ended with the creation of a manifesto and the foundation of WILPF. Next year in 2015 it is WILPF’s 100th anniversary and with that milestone a new manifesto is being prepared.

In the end of the history seminar, we all discussed the first draft of the 2015 manifesto and after the discussion we sat down for a lovely lunch prepared for us by my mother Synnøve.

Elisabeth Kristiansen, IKFF Norway, February 2014

Share the post

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 WILPF US’ Practicum in Advocacy Programme at the United Nations. She holds a PhD in Social Work and currently works at the University of Texas as the Director of Human Trafficking Research at one of the university’s think tanks. Of Mexican descent, born on the US and Mexican border, and raised between the two countries, Melissa is mostly concerned with the protection of displaced Latinxs in the Americas. She is also involved with the American Red Cross as a volunteer, trainer, and researcher focused on post-disaster aid distribution and work with undocumented Latinxs. 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

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit. Mauris facilisis luctus rhoncus. Praesent eget tellus sit amet enim consectetur condimentum et vel ante. Nulla facilisi. Suspendisse et nunc sem. Vivamus ullamcorper vestibulum neque, a interdum nisl accumsan ac. Cras ut condimentum turpis. Vestibulum ante ipsum primis in faucibus orci luctus et ultrices posuere cubilia curae; Curabitur efficitur gravida ipsum, quis ultricies erat iaculis pellentesque. Nulla congue iaculis feugiat. Suspendisse euismod congue ultricies. Sed blandit neque in libero ultricies aliquam. Donec euismod eget diam vitae vehicula. Fusce hendrerit purus leo. Aenean malesuada, ante eu aliquet mollis, diam erat suscipit eros, in.


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.

Skip to content