The ambivalence of men in Sri Lankan civil society to support feminist peace initiatives - WILPF Sri Lanka


This report looks at why men and boys are reluctant to engage in gender equality work in Sri Lanka and suggests framing gender equality as something that would be in the best interest of in men and boys. In other words, the researchers explore the perceptions and effects of the gender equality process in Sri Lanka and why resistance comes from the men, what responsibilities men and women have, and how to reach out to both men and women to engage in promoting it. The authors of this study carried out thirty-five interviews among both men and women, representing different nationalities and geographies who are actively involved in gender equality related work within Sri Lanka. Social media analysis was done as a research methodology.

In Sri Lanka, as in many countries, gender equality is still seen as “just women’s business”; indeed, most of these debates, referring to gender responsibilities falling on women instead of men, are promoted and maintained by women; in some cases, women and women’s attempts to change may even be seen by some as the problem, rather than men’s resistance to change. However, in Sri Lanka, there is often much resistance on the part of some women to involving men in gender and development work – driven by fears about the weakening of the feminist agenda, undermining women’s empowerment initiatives and putting power back into the hands of men. Within the Sri Lankan culture, there are male supporters of gender equality, and women go out of their way to choose the best male counterparts who can support their work related to gender equality. If not engaging men and boys in the effectiveness of development, initiatives may actually intensify gender inequalities. Much of the active resistance by Sri Lankan men to a positive involvement in gender equality, stems from men’s relations to power. The challenge of power for men exists in all spheres: personal, political, policy and academic. It involves challenging patriarchy as a system, challenging elite men’s power and the power elites (business, financial, governmental, military, transnational) of men, challenging the distribution of power, and challenging the concentrations of power in particular men’s hands.

The challenge on hand is to find ideologically consistent ways to strategically involve men and boys themselves in the context of gender equality. Hence it was important to explore the manifestations of militarised masculinities, which are defined as stereotypical traits of manhood such as power, control and aggressiveness acquired through participation in armed forces, and provide recommendations on how we address structures, interests and institutions that underpin and drive conflicts and shape gender roles. This report hopes to do just that.



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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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