Men, Masculinities & Armed Conflict: Grave Impacts of Militarised Masculinity in Afghan Society Pre and Post Taliban Takeover. Hareer Hashim


The purpose of this study is to surface the root causes of militarised masculinities in Afghanistan, and how the manifestations of these imposed gender norms and ideologies inhibit women’s social, economic and political rights; perpetuate armed conflict; and promote the possession and use of weapons. This report highlights the problem of successive militarisation in Afghanistan, as a country with one of the youngest populations in the world, most of the population have lived their whole lives surrounded by war.

The author of this report, Hareer Hashim, hopes to provide a platform for the voices and demands of Afghan civilians for peace. It centres the belief that peace in Afghanistan is not only the symbolic end of violence or war; rather, sustainable peace inside Afghanistan necessarily requires a responsible government that will respect, protect and promote human rights, maintain social justice, ensure social and physical security, and work for economic justice. As this report was being completed in 2022, foreign troops had withdrawn meaning the war had technically ended, but Afghans are now facing an imposed militarised regime since 15 August 2021 – one which denies women their fundamental human rights and equality and is being done through religious, ethical, activist and cultural prosecution by the Taliban regime. The Taliban foot soldiers are militarised warriors; they know how to use their weapons for the purpose of murder and killing in a cause that they deem justified, but very little experience in governance. The futures of 36 million Afghans are now in the hands of a group that is not equipped and trained to run a functioning society and country, and one which utilises fear and terror to achieve its ends.

The mere presence of the militarised regime has instilled fear and limited women’s participation in political, social and economic sectors. Afghanistan is now facing a severe humanitarian crisis, and 90% of households at the time of writing are food-insecure. This report illustrates that as a result of this, many across the country face severe mental health issues such as depression and anxiety. They require psychosocial support to be able to process the loss that they are facing first hand. Afghan people, especially those in rural and remote parts, are all collateral damage of this war.

Although it is commonly considered that men bear the brunt of wars, as they are most likely to die in combat, it is their participation, leadership and deaths in armed conflicts that leave a permanent gaping wound in families and communities, as has been the case in Afghanistan. Communities and individuals in Afghanistan have been significantly shaped by war and armed violence and, as a result, so have the norms, customs, practices and institutions that affect ideas about and the societal regulation of masculinity and femininity.

Alternatives to the model of militarised masculinities exhibited by the Taliban do exist within Afghanistan. The male alliance that WILPF Afghanistan gathered during this project, is a representation of men that present a different version of masculinity from most Afghan men. Hareer Hashim in this report argues how WILPF Afghanistan’s male allies are the living embodiment of men who can be women’s biggest supporters and promoters of the rights of women. They faced resistance from Afghan society before the Taliban takeover, but now, their work is in danger because their lives are at severe risk.



Power on Patrol


Men, Masculinities & Armed Conflict: Findings from a four-country study by the Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom


Making Visible The Afghan Men Who Are Working For Women’s Rights And A Gender-Just Society


Afghan men committed to women’s rights

Yellow fog over Afghanistan, silhouettes

Making Visible the Afghan Men Who Are Working for Women’s Rights and a Gender-Just Society


Masculinities, War and Violence in Afghanistan


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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. 

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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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