Celebrating Feminists’ Voices, Inspiring Global Peace

Invest in Women’s Organisations for a Change

19 October 2016

movethemoney_fbcoverIn 2015, there was a $1.6 trillion global arms trade, yet in 2012-2013 only 2% of aid on peace and security to conflict-affected states targeted gender equality. Furthermore, a global survey by AWID found 740 women’s organisations worldwide in 2010 had a combined income of only $106 million – less than the cost of one F-33 fighter plane ($137 million).  As this shows, the problem for funding gender equality and the feminist movement is not a lack of funding, but poor choices in using the money we have.

As part of WILPF’s work to show that ‘You Get What You Pay For,’ we have recently launched an interactive toolkit to #MoveTheMoney from a political economy of war to one of peace and gender justice. This blog post provides a look from our academic network on why it is important to #MoveTheMoney to the feminist movement for peace.

by Peace A. Medie, member of WILPF Academic Network

Women’s organisations have initiated and led efforts to advance women’s rights globally. These organisations, which include grassroots groups and NGOs, have brought domestic and international attention to women’s rights violations and to discrimination against women, and have pressured international organisations and states to deal with these problems. In Liberia and other post-war states in Africa, they have urged governments to address women’s concerns and have provided vital health, social, and economic services and support to girls and women. Yet, despite the immense contribution that they are making, many of these organisations are severely underfunded. This lack of funding puts the advancement of women’s rights and gender equality, at risk.

Women’s organisations have made women’s rights an international policy issue. In addition to placing women’s rights on the agenda of the UN and other international organisations, they have pressured states to enact laws and introduce policies to improve girls’ and women’s physical security, their health, education, their participation in politics, and their economic advancement. These organisations have also played a key role in the implementation of these laws and policies.

In Liberia, where I have lived and worked, women’s organisations have partnered with the UN and other international organisations to influence the enforcement of women’s rights laws. One area in which they have been active is in the enforcement of laws to protect girls and women from violence. For example, the Association of Female Lawyers of Liberia (AFELL) urged the Ministry of Justice to establish the Sexual and Gender Based Violence Crimes unit. Established in 2009 in Monrovia, the unit specialises in prosecuting sex crimes. AFELL also lobbied for the establishment of Criminal Court E, a court dedicated to prosecute sex crimes. They have also played a role in developing the standards of procedure in the criminal justice sector. AFELL participated in drafting the Sexual Assault and Abuse Police Handbook for the Women and Children Protection Section of the Liberia National Police. And when these specialised agencies have failed to meet expectations, AFELL has advocated for improvements.

Their work has been complemented by a host of women’s organisations that provide psychosocial and financial support for survivors of violence. These organisations run safe homes that shelter battered women, help rape survivors to relocate to new neighbourhoods in order to escape stigmatisation, and provide job training for them. Their actions are mirrored across Africa, and the globe, and make a huge impact in the lives of girls and women.

It is for this reason that the underfunding of women’s organisations is a pressing problem. According to a recent report by Gendernet, a subsidiary body of the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development, only 0.5 percent of funding to promote women’s rights and equality went to women’s organisations. In Liberia, smaller organisations without the staff and expertise needed to successfully apply for these grants and to prepare reports are often at a disadvantage. Donors’ preference for disbursing short-term funding has limited what organisations are able to accomplish while donor-driven (instead of needs-driven) projects lead to the side-lining of problems that are not on the international radar but require urgent action.

It is, therefore, imperative that donors and states prioritise the funding of women’s organisations and that they change how they allocate and disburse this funding. They can reach smaller organisations and reduce the administrative burden on them by channelling grants through women’s funds such as the Global Fund for Women and the African Women’s Development Fund. WILPF supports AWID’s recommendations for donors to move away from short-term projects and towards multi-year and core funding in order to ensure project sustainability and to support capacity building within recipient organisations as well as a vibrant feminist movement.

Women’s organisations have been at the forefront of the campaigns for women’s rights and gender equality. They have played a key role in much of the progress that has been made in these areas and have the potential to bring about even greater transformation though their influence on the policy implementation process. Donors and states should, therefore, support their efforts to improve all aspects of girls’ and women’s lives.

The time is now to #MoveTheMoney from war to peace and gender justice: Invest in women’s organisations.

About the author
Peace A. Medie


Peace A. Medie is an Oxford-Princeton Global Leaders Fellow. She is a Postdoctoral Research Fellow at the Niehaus Centre for Globalisation and Governance, Princeton University.


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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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