The Institutional And Cultural Militarisation Of Masculinities In Colombia, The Most War-Like Country In Latin America


For more than seven decades militarised hegemonic masculinities have impacted Colombia deeply, closely linked to the emergence, prolongation and degradation of different armed conflicts that have to date left more than 230,000 victims throughout the territory. Militarised hegemonic masculinities establish a series of practices and habits in the culture from which violent actions become part of everyday life. In Colombia, this has meant that for generations the idea that war is something to live with, has been accepted.

In 2020, an initiative convened by the Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom (WILPF, or Limpal in Spanish) and MenEngage officially launched the project, Confronting Militarised Masculinities, Mobilising Men for Feminist Peace, which involved the participation of four countries: Colombia, Cameroon, the Democratic Republic of Congo and Afghanistan. The links might seem remote, at least from a geographical point of view, but the experiences of these countries are not so remote. Their histories are interwoven with colonialism, war, violence and a grey panorama for women and political minorities, who have been marginalised and whose rights have been endlessly violated in the construction of these nations.

This research allows these countries to recognise their histories autonomously, from their local, community and collective experiences that make feminism practise in their territories, unique and characterised by resistance. Through this territorial knowledge, each country addresses one of the most violent aspects of its history: militarism. This system has become a permanent element in culture, socio-political construction and institutionalism. Militarism is installed in the social imaginary, it is accepted and legitimised, even when its violent effects are increasingly tangible and cruel. Therefore, the design of this research is born from a historical need, from dynamics and practices that have been present since colonial times, and that, today, Latin American feminism seeks to dismantle and rethink.

In Colombia, from the anti-militarist approach, Limpal has collected evidence on the militarisation of masculinities since July 2020, through different activities designed in a particular way to respond responsibly to the context in which they are investigated, the experiences of each community, and the intersections that make each space, each knowledge and each territory, valuable and unique. 

The aim of this report is to research how the militarisation of masculinities occurs in each stage of life, and in the institutional and cultural spectrums, since Limpal recognises that the militaristic system is so corrosive that it is installed in each of the political and social spaces of Colombian society.



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


Militarised Masculinities in Colombia and Approaches to Building Alternative Masculinities for a Feminist Peace


Militarised Masculinities in Colombia


Militarised Masculinities and Alternatives

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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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