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IWD Spotlight: WILPF Europe Urges World Leaders to Commit to Peace

28 February 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 European Section members march in Rome.

On the 60th anniversary of the signing of the Treaty of Rome, 27 world leaders milled around the steps of Capitoline Hill in Rome, shaking hands. Nearby, WILPF European members worked to set out on paper their recommendations to these same world leaders to honour their commitments to peace.

In March 2017, WILPF members from all corners of Europe brainstormed, debated, marched and dined together in a display of solidarity to each other and women all over Europe and the world. Adopting the spirit of collaborative peacemaking so celebrated on International Women’s Day, for three days representatives from SwedenFinlandNorwayDenmarkNetherlandsGermanyItalySpainFranceSwitzerland, Serbia, UKScotland and Poland collaborated and planned side by side.

WILPF European Section women dine together.

Initially the participants drafted a declaration reaffirming their commitments to pluralism, diversity and the guarantee of rights, which provided a framework for the weekend’s upcoming events. “It [was] a very feminist atmosphere,” said WILPF International Board member and EU Coordinator Heidi Meinzolt, who was present at the event.

For Meinzolt, the weekend was not only an opportunity to demand change, but to bring the WILPF European member groups closer together. “I think it’s a collective understanding,” she said. “Coordinating different ideas from all over Europe and bringing them together. It’s really from the bottom up.”

The peacemakers present developed reform strategies on the arms trade, nuclear disarmament, the Istanbul Convention and climate change, all under their rallying cry of “Move the Money from war to peace.” The event was a massive effort of unanimity amongst the diverse group of women. For Meinzolt, however, her “dream” is to welcome as many women as possible into the movement, particularly from Eastern Europe. In this effort, for International Women’s Day WILPF would like to extend an especially warm invitation to all women committed to peace to join us!

The crowd at one of the marches during the weekend.

Resulting from the event, the WILPF European member groups were able to mobilize a unified vision for a peaceful future, and to outline six goals of action:

  1. to transform gendered power,
  2. stigmatise war and violence,
  3. work towards a feminist political economy,
  4. focus on movement building,
  5. amplify local and regional change,
  6. and improve multilateral connections.

For Meinzolt, the collective commitment to peace of the women in the room was tangible. “Women always work cross border to organise change in politics,” she said. “This is the lesson that came out of World War One really… While the ruling elites were full of nationalists, the women always worked cross-borders and against this way of seeing the other of the enemy.”

Continue the celebration of feminist collaboration as International Women’s Day comes up! Join us here at WILPF, and see what other women around the globe are doing by following #IWD2018 on social media.

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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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