Celebrating Feminists’ Voices, Inspiring Global Peace

IWD Spotlight: WILPF Colombia Participates in Forum to Include Women in the Peace Process

6 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.

©WILPF Colombia

In early February 2018, representatives from close to 29 women’s initiatives congregated in the Virgilio Barco library in Bogota, Colombia, to voice their concerns about the precariousness of women’s safety in the country.

Representing WILPF Colombia (LIMPAL Colombia), Diana Salcedo, deputy director of the section, argued that Colombia’s antiquated culture of militarism is still very much present in many areas of the country. Following the event, Salcedo authored an article published by Colombian news source El Espectador (Columna LIMPAL English), in which she discussed the lingering commitment to armed forces growth at the community level. This, she says, threatens women’s security and contributes to the proliferation of small arms amongst civilians.

©WILPF Colombia

What is important for women and Colombia, Salcedo says, is assured individual safety, protection of the environment, employment opportunities, sustainable growth of cities, effective service from public institutions, and the right to a life free from violence against women.

The only way to guarantee these criteria, and in fact the fastest and most effective way agreed the speakers, is to appoint women representatives in official security strategizing processes. As International Women’s Day approaches, WILPF would like to take the moment to express our thanks to and support for the inspiring people and organisations working towards gender equality in decision making processes in Colombia.

During the forum, entitled “Women on Security: Proposals for a Country in Transition,” WILPF Colombia and the other participants explored how inclusion of diverse voices in the defence sector endorses security through peace as opposed to armament.

Click here for the WILPF Colombia webinar: “Las Mujeres en la Implementación del Acuerdo de Paz de Colombia,” (in Spanish). Photo courtesy of Juan Cristobal Zulueta

Previously, WILPF Colombia had explored how this imperative affects Colombia, and how this paradigm is applicable to defence programmes in all countries, in a webinar entitled “Women in the Implementation of the Peace Agreement of Colombia,” broadcasted in Spanish.

Colombia is recognised for its June 2017 peace agreement with the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia that devoted significant attention to women’s rights and the gender perspective. Colombia has also ratified several international treaties that include the Women, Peace and Security (WPS) agenda. However, the following peacemaking processes must improve the rate of female representatives. This was the primary objective of WILPF Colombia in the Women on Security forum.

WILPF Colombia’s awareness-raising efforts are imperative to establishing equality in their country, and their commitment to the inclusion of women’s voices in influential positions is essential to Colombia’s fulfilment of the WPS agenda. Please read and share Salcedo’s article to learn more about women’s rights and the proliferation of small arms in Colombia.

As Salcedo says in her article, “At the end of the day, our common goal is to build a sustainable and long-lasting peace for women, who are repairing the broken pieces of a war that was not theirs.”

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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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