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Malala, the Nobel Peace Prize, and the International Day of the Girl Child

11 October 2014

In light of yesterday’s announcement that Malala Yousafzai won the Nobel Peace Prize, today’s observance of the International Day of the Girl Child has taken on a significant new meaning.

The recognition of the Pakistani child education activist’s work demonstrates the growing global awareness of issues surrounding girls’ human rights. We at WILPF hope that, by shining the spotlight on Malala’s achievements and the promotion of girls’ human rights, today’s International Day of the Girl Child will receive more attention and involvement than ever before.

Read on to get caught up on the basics about the movement and why it is important.

What is the International Day of the Girl Child?

Since 2012, the United Nations marks 11 October as the “International Day of the Girl Child”. According to UN Women, the day “promotes girls’ human rights, highlights gender inequalities that remain between girls and boys and addresses the various forms of discrimination and abuse suffered by girls around the world.”

This year, the theme is “Empowering adolescent girls: Ending the cycle of violence.”

Why is the day important?

The day is important because it gives the chance to the widen discussion on the intersecting rights of the child and rights of women and girls.

Because of this year’s theme, there has been a particular focus among activists and civil society members to talk about gender based violence, further awareness, and seek opportunities for girls’ empowerment. This includes discussing the role of education, and how empowering girls can prevent violence and end child marriage.

What can we do about it?

Civil society raised awareness in a wide variety of ways, from fake blogs imitating child marriage to aiming to educate 10000 girls across the globe.

At WILPF, we have a special network, Young WILPF, which is dedicated to girls and young people. This is a global movement of young women committed to peace and disarmament. Young WILPFers participate in the work of WILPF all over the world, and initiate and run their own projects with the support of other young WILPFers.

You can get involved in a number of ways. To start, why not share this nifty infographic with your friends, participate in the official Google Hangout, or comment here!

WILPF would like to extend our congratulations to Malala for the well-deserved recognition of her tireless work to promote the education of girls and in this way break the cycle of violence against girls. We hope that the award, along with the celebration of the third annual International Day of the Girl Child, underlines the significance of girls’ human rights for human rights and peace in general.

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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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