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Interview Exclusive: New President Elected at 100 Year Anniversary Congress

25 April 2015

Yesterday afternoon, the WILPF 2015 Congress elected Kozue Akibayashi of WILPF Japan as the new WILPF International President!

We got the scoop on her thoughts and ideas for the future.

But first, a little bit about the presentation and election of Executive Committee candidates.

Presentation of Executive Committee Candidates

The WILPF 2015 Congress elected a new Executive Committee, which consists of a President, four Vice Presidents, and a Treasurer (plus our Secretary General, Madeleine Rees).

All of the nominees provided insight into the personal journeys that led them to being involved in and passionate about WILPF.

The candidates were diverse in terms of years of involvement in WILPF, experiences, and origin.

What they all had in common, however, was their devotion to speaking out for the values embedded in WILPF  – demilitarisation, human rights, women, peace and security, and social and economic justice.

Election of Executive Committee

When it came to ballot voting, the room was buzzing with excitement and the crowd cheered with enormous enthusiasm when Kozue Akibayashi was announced as new International President. Both candidates for President, Ms Akibayashi and Ms Hanan Awwad, are pictured below.

nom hannan
Hanan Awwad
nom kazue
Kozue Akibayashi







Joy Onyesoh, Margrethe Tingstad, Catia Confortini, and Sameena Nazir were elected as Vice Presidents and Kerry McGovern as Treasurer.

WILPF 2015 Congress welcomes the newly elected Executive Committee.
WILPF 2015 Congress welcomes the newly elected Executive Committee.
Interview with Kozue Akibayashi, New WILPF International President

We had the chance to catch Kozue right after the votes were in. Here are her reflections on her history with WILPF, the energy of the elections in the Peace Palace, and her plans for the future.

Congratulations! Just moments ago you were elected the new president of WILPF.

How did you feel when you heard your name called out?

I was excited, I was happy.

What were the highlights of WILPF Congress 2015, your fifth Congress?

The discussion on the Manifesto. I have my own views and opinions of it, and it was great to have a discussion of the draft Manifesto, because we’d never done that before.

What are you most looking forward to as the new president?

I would like to deepen our gender analysis, which I have already started to see happen. I’m glad there has been more explicit discussion on the analysis.

Issues vary region to region, community to community, but as one of the oldest NGOs, our strength lies in our conceptual work. And it’s a real feminist praxis that when we talk about issues and problems, we extract ideas and concepts, we analyse, and we go back to how to address the issues. I think the beauty lies in the process. At the same time, of course, it is difficult.

It was good to see younger generations, since I was one of them years ago!

And it seems more professional. This shows that the organisation grew to be able to offer more opportunities to young professional women and men. And that’s very good.

What are your priorities for the next three years?

I’m not from a directly conflict affected community, but my work on hostile communities, United States military bases in Japan’s case, is unique, and I think it offers a lot. These experiences of these women who I’ve been working with, their thinking and ideas, offer more holistic, comprehensive analysis of armed conflicts.

It’s very important to make the connection clear, that so called peacetime societies are in continuum.

What are you looking forward to at WILPF 2015 Conference: Women’s Power to Stop War?

The Conference looks fantastic, has really attracted many wonderful people from different communities on the ground, but also engaged our scholars. I know I have many non WILPF friends coming which is very good, and there will be such a wide variety of meetings there.

Why did you decide to become an active member of WILPF?

I always wanted to be a peace activist, and a feminist, since I was 10 years old. I started to work with WILPF because of its perception on root causes of war. There are not many organisations that do that. But that is what WILPF started articulating, the connection between gender discrimination and war. No one else has done it and there are still only a few who promote that issue.

Do you have any final comments?

We need everyone’s help for us to go on!

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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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