Celebrating Feminists’ Voices, Inspiring Global Peace

IWD Spotlight: Ten Years of Peacebuilding by Women in the DRC

7 March 2018

Leading up to International Women’s Day on March 8, WILPF will be publishing a series of articles spotlighting some of the efforts of our member groups to create a more sustainable, peaceful future for women around the world. Follow these publications and support International Women’s Day by sharing with the hashtag #IWD2018.

©Micheline Muzaneza

From 4 to 5 December 2017, WILPF DRC organised a high level international conference on the theme “10 years of Women’s Peacebuilding by Women, for Women and for All” in Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of Congo.

In a tense political context where consensus is necessary to ensure peaceful, free and democratic elections, WILPF DRC found their role as a women’s peace organisation mobilising for the rights of women particularly imperative. They consequently assembled the conference on peacebuilding in the DRC, in which more than 130 people were involved.

©Micheline Muzaneza

Given its importance, the conference was attended by the representative of the Minister of Gender, Family and Children; the representative of the National Secretariat of UN Security Council Resolution 1325 of the DRC; the personal representative of the head of state in charge of sexual violence issues; the representative of the Minister of Human Rights; the rapporteur of the Human Rights Commission of the DRC; the Gender Focal Point of the Armed Forces; and the representative of public and private enterprises. Several participants from inside the DRC and WILPF DRC focal points from the provinces of Bandundu, Kongo-Central, Upper Katanga, North and South Kivu attended.

African peacebuilders representing WILPF Africa (South Africa, Burundi, Cameroon, CAR, Ghana, Nigeria, Uganda, Zimbabwe, DRC), WILPF Sweden, the International Office of Geneva and New York, the diaspora of Belgium, and DRC civil society organisations also took an active part in the panels, as they are also concerned about the future of the regions and feel strongly invested in a commitment to peace and freedom in the world.

©Micheline Muzaneza

This conference allowed WILPF DRC to assess the last decade of initiatives by women to promote non-violence and gender equality in the nation. It also allowed youth and women’s organisations defending Congolese women’s rights to contribute to peacebuilding. The conference was inspired by the UNSCR1325 on Women, Peace and Security which, was adopted on 31 October 2000, and by WILPF DRC’s long-standing work on the implementation of the resolution to ensure women’s participation in peace processes in the DRC. The overall objective of the 2017 conference was to celebrate resilience, perseverance and the unwavering commitment of women in the DRC to the ideal of lasting peace, justice and universal freedoms.

In order to achieve the assigned objectives, the organisers adopted a participatory methodology that allowed each participant to play a role, either as facilitator, speaker or rapporteur in the following panels:

  1. Women’s Movements in Peacebuilding at the Community Level
  2. Importance of Networking Women and their Organisations in Peacebuilding
  3. Promote Women’s Political Participation Before, During and After Elections
  4. The Place of Women in Peace Agreements
  5. 17 Years of Mobilisation and Awareness-Raising around Resolution 1325 in the DRC
  6. Synergy of Women and Men in Peacebuilding
  7. Beyond Prevention, how to Consolidate Peace?
  8. Gender Based Violence and Peacebuilding
  9. Youths and the Achievement of SDGs
  10. Gender, Peace and Climate Change
  11. “It’s time to move the money from war to peace.”
After the two-day conference, a final declaration was adopted, stating key recommendations to governments, the United Nations, civil society organisations and political leaders. The declaration called for an earnest commitment to the implementation of the UNSCR 1325, transferal of money from economies of war to peacebuilding initiatives, and a refocus on improving the economic, social and political status of women in the region. More broadly, the document appealed for a renewed interest in the protection of democratic governance, fair elections, fight against climate change and disarmament.

You can find the declaration in English here, or in French here.


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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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