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Launch of New WILPF Report at the UN Headquarters in New York

9 June 2016

On 6 June 2016, the Women’s International League of Peace and Freedom’s Disarmament programme, Reaching Critical Will, launched a report, Preventing gender-based violence through arms control, at a side event to the Sixth Biennial Meeting of States (BMS6).

Mia Gandenberger and Rebecca Gerome at NY Launch

The report, which was authored by Rebecca Gerome, discusses tools and guidelines for effective implementation of the Arms Trade Treaty (ATT) and the UN Programme of Action on Small Arms and Light Weapons (UNPoA) provisions related to gender-based violence (GBV). The panel of speakers, Gerome along with Reaching Critical Will’s Mia Gandenberger and Marren Akatsa-Bukachi of the IANSA Women’s Network, presented the key findings in the report and addressed the link between gender and disarmament.

Gandenberger spoke of the invisible violence that is GBV. She explained the ATT is the first international agreement that recognises the link between GBV and the arms trade. She also noted that women should not just be treated as vulnerable or as victims, but as actors with equitable contributions to make to arms control and disarmament.

Gerome spoke of the demographics of GBV, discussing the patterns of gun violence, in particular the pattern of gender and age. She spoke of how despite 80-90% of gun homicide victims are made up of young men, women are affected and involved and constitute the majority of GBV victims. Furthermore, Gerome discussed the notion of gender as a socially constructed concept and the uneven power relations that GBV is rooted in. She highlighted Article 7.4 of the ATT, which stipulates that states are committed to taking GBV into account as binding criteria when assessing whether or not to export arms. She noted that unlike the ATT, the UNPoA makes no mention of gender; however, there have been some developments as of June 2014, with reference to women in policy making.

Gerome discussed her research process in writing the report and spoke of the lack of data and the difficulties in collecting it. She explained the differing requirements of countries when conducting risk assessments and noted that to date, no countries have specific language on GBV in their documentation, only incorporating it more broadly under the banner of human rights. She discussed her finding that many arms exporters didn’t have expertise in GBV or the gender component of arms trade nor did they have enough time to make risk assessments due to constraints. She further called for consultation with women’s groups in all sectors of society to ensure gender mainstreaming into the implementation of the UNPoA. Akatsa-Bukachi spoke of the connection between gender and disarmament, recounting an example from Uganda to highlight the unequal power relations between men and women and the link between domestic violence and access to arms. She presented statistics regarding the proliferation of firearms including that abusers with gun access are seven times more likely to kill their partners and that having a gun in the home increases chances of death by up to 20 times.

Akatsa-Bukachi further spoke of issues of prohibition and methods of limiting access. In closing, the audience was given an opportunity to contribute to discussion, conversation was thought provoking and lively, ultimately concluding with the sentiment that gender-based violence is not just a women’s issue but an issue for everyone, and that patriarchal norms and violent masculinities are present in today’s global society and as such it is important to disarm genderbased violence.

Download the report Preventing gender-based violence through arms control

Download the Executive Summary of the report

See the pre-launch webinar with Ray Acheson, Director of Reaching Critical Will, and Rebecca Geroma, author of the report.

Read the press release New report shows how effective implementation of arms control treaties can prevent gender-based violence

By Nela Abey

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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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