Supporting Feminist Activism and Increasing Women’s Meaningful Participation

In Iraq, long-standing challenges – including ongoing civil conflicts, violence, corruption, the growing presence of armed groups, and a loss of public confidence in the political process – have eroded state institutions and led to a situation in which the rights of Iraqi women are constantly under threat. At the same time, women continue to be excluded from active participation in public life. 

These challenges are evident in the low representation of women in decision-making spaces and conflict resolution, as well as growing rates of early and forced marriage and sexual and gender-based violence, widespread illiteracy among women and girls, increasing numbers of internally displaced women, and the absence of basic health services and social and legal protection.

Together with our partners in Baghdad and Kurdistan, WILPF is working on developing feminist approaches to security, peace, and gender justice in Iraq, including through increasing women’s meaningful participation in decision and peace-making processes at the local and international levels.

Amal Kabashi: “Working together gives us real strength. It gives us a louder voice in demanding our rights and helps us achieve real justice.”

“Working together gives us real strength. It gives us a louder voice in demanding our rights and helps us achieve real justice.”

Amal Kabashi
Coordinator of Iraqi Women’s Network

WILPF Partners

WILPF works jointly with the Iraqi Women Network (IWN) and Asuda for Combating Violence Against Women Organisation, in Iraq and Kurdish region, respectively, in order to develop feminist activism and increase women’s meaningful political, economic, and social participation.

Iraqi Women Bring the Country Closer to Peace

Six Irawi women standing in front of UN building

A delegation representing the Iraqi Women’s Network attended the Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) session in October 2019 and briefed the UN Committee on the CEDAW shadow report submitted at the end of September the same year.

In this report, which resulted from a collaboration with more than 100 local organisations, IWN raised issues on women’s rights violations in Iraq and asked the committee to put pressure on the Iraqi government to commit to its obligations towards women’s rights. 

Read this interview with Amal Kabashi – Coordinator of the Iraqi Women’s Network – to learn more about IWN and the situation in Iraq.

IWN Baghdad Regional Forum for Developing Institutional Mechanisms for Women’s Advancement

In August 2019, the Iraqi Women’s Network (IWN), with the support of WILPF, held their first ever Baghdad Regional Forum for Developing Institutional Mechanisms for Women’s Advancement.  

The forum gathered widespread attendance from Iraqi representatives of governments and civil society from across the region, as well as a number of regional and international organisations.

It was an opportunity for information sharing and consultation amongst civil society organisations (CSOs) about their countries’ national institutional mechanisms for women’s advancement across the MENA region.  

The forum also aimed to mobilise collective efforts for the creation of an independent national machinery seeking to address women’s issues and empowerment in Iraq. As a result of the forum, IWN was able to secure buy-in from the Iraqi government to form the National Council for Women and submitted a project to create a Ministry of State for Women Affairs headed by a feminist figure.

Gender Equality, Peace, and Security in Post-COVID-19 Iraq

Report Cover: Now and the Future - Gender Equality, Peace and Security in a Covid-19 World Iraq

As part of its membership in the Gender Action for Peace and Security (GAPS) network, WILPF closely coordinated with its Iraq-based partners to provide in-depth gender-conflict analysis that would help the international community and governments develop short and long-term programmes and response frameworks to address the wide-ranging impacts of COVID-19.

The analysis, entitled Now and the Future Gender Equality, Peace and Security in a COVID-19 World, offers insights into how the pandemic is impacting conflict dynamics, which are themselves gendered. 

Militarised Counter Terrorism and its Impact on Human Rights in Mosul, Iraq

A displaced girl carries a kite at Khazer camp in Iraq.

In August 2019, WILPF and Asuda published a report titled: We Are Still Here: Mosulite Women 500 Days After the Conclusion of the Coalition Military Operation.

The report showcases how security measures adopted in Mosul, in Northern Iraq, disregard the human rights of the local civilian population, undermine local peacebuilding approaches, and inflict disproportionate impacts on Iraqi women and girls.

The report was a response to the military operation “We Are Coming” that announced the storming of Mosul in 2016. 

Latest Updates

Latest Publications

Now and the Future Gender Equality, Peace and Security in a COVID-19 World Iraq

Report: The Proliferation of SALW in Iraq and Rates of Violence Against Women

We Are Still Here: Mosulite Women 500 Days After the Conclusion of the Coalition Military Operation

Advocacy Documents


Melissa Torres

VICE-PRESIDENT

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

VICE-PRESIDENT

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

PRESIDENT

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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Demilitarisation

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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