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New Report on Syria Response Consultations on the UK National Action Plan on Women, Peace and Security

26 June 2017

The UK government is currently developing a new National Action Plan (NAP) on Women, Peace and Security (WPS), with 6 focus countries including Syria. It is scheduled to be launched during the annual high level debate on Woman Peace and Security (WPS) in New York in October 2017 and implemented as of January 2018. WILPF, Amnesty International UK (AI UK) and the Syrian CSO Women Now for Development (WND) held consultations with Syrian women human rights defenders, gender equality advocates and civil society organisations to reflect and strategise on how best to use the UK NAP to translate the UK government’s WPS commitments into tangibly positive impacts for all women and girls inside Syria, as well as those seeking refuge abroad.

The consultations were conducted under the mandate of GAPS (Gender Action on Peace and Security), with financial support from AIUK, WILPF, and the UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO). As such, the Syria consultations form part of a larger consultative process on the UK NAP which encompasses 3 other focus countries: Myanmar, Afghanistan and Somaliland. A summary report, Women’s Voices in the National Action Plan on Women, Peace and Security, provides an overview of the wider consultative process on all four priority countries.

In order to substantively inform this plan and ensure that diverse voices are heard, two face to face civil society consultations were held in Beirut, Lebanon, and in Gaziantep, Turkey, in February 2017. This provided a space for Syrian women-led civil society to organise across political boundaries, with representatives from 25 civil society organisations, including: Syrian Women’s League, Dawlaty, Musawa – Women’s Study Center, Syrian Feminist Lobby, Sawa for Development and Aid, Women’s Network Initiative, Free women of Daraya, Regional Coalition for Women’s Human Rights Defenders in MENA, Amnesty International MENA, Kvina Till Kvina Lebanon, Syrian Female Journalists Network, URANAMMU, Care International Jordan, Damma Initiative, Kesh Malek, BIHAR Relief Organization, Hurass/Syrian Non violence movement, Syria Bright future, This Is My Life, Young Generation, Women Now Syria, SWATR, Syrian Women’s Network (SWN), The Day After, and Amal Center – Antakya.

A final report detailing the main findings and recommendations arising from the civil society consultations, which is available to download in Arabic and English, was delivered by GAPS to the UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office in April. The report aims to influence the design of the new UK NAP on WPS, which is currently in the process of being drafted. In addition to the two consultations in Turkey and Lebanon, the report is based on a series of focus group discussions (FGDs) and key informant interviews conducted by grassroots activists inside Syria in areas controlled by the regime, the and opposition, and ISIS among other extremist groups, as well as with the refugee population in Turkey. A video was also produced on the Syria consultations for advocacy purposes, which is available to view below.

YouTube video

The report highlights the main challenges to the implementation of the international Women, Peace and Security agenda (outlined in UNSCR 1325 and subsequent related resolutions) in Syria and among host communities, as experienced by Syrian women. The needs of Syrian women and the main barriers affecting them are addressed in four priority areas: 1) participation; 2) violence against women and girls (VAWG);  3) institutions, security, justice and legal frameworks; and 4) refugees and forced displacement.

Convinced by the importance of applying a human rights perspective in States’ NAPs on Women, Peace and Security to address the root causes and the disproportionate effects of the conflict on women and girls, WILPF, AI UK and WND frame recommendations on each of the four priority areas with the aim of safeguarding and advancing women’s human rights. The recommendations are based on evidence collected through ongoing research by the three facilitating organisations and the 25 participating Syrian CSOs. They are designed to be realistic and attainable, addressing the root causes of violence and its exacerbation and calling for women’s meaningful inclusion in securing a political solution to the ongoing conflict in Syria.

The final report and video form part of a wider advocacy strategy which will be carried forward to follow up on the delivery of the report to the UK government with events at the UK parliament, as well as bilateral and round table meetings with the UK government, advocacy events at the Human Rights Council and bilateral and multilateral meetings with Member States’ diplomatic missions in Geneva.

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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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