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No to War

We would love to begin our first blog in 2020 with the simple wish of an inspiring year. But it would not feel right to put a mask on and let the current incidents stay unspoken.

Image credit: WILPF
WILPF International Secretariat
8 January 2020

We would love to begin our first blog in 2020 with the simple wish of an inspiring year. But it would not feel right to put a mask on and let the current incidents stay unspoken. 

Only eight days into 2020, the year already seems like an uncontrollable chaos.

Our social media feeds are flooded by impressions of the devastating consequences of global warming in Australia, threats of the US and Iran to escalate war in the Middle-East and images of once vivid cities in Syria, now left in rubble.

The escalating violence between the US and Iran is repeating the darkness of history and fuelling proxy wars at the expense of civilian’s lives, civilian’s safety and civilian’s security in the Middle East region. WILPF has formed part of the many voices calling for an immediate stop to the escalation of military attacks and demanding direct negotiation and mediation efforts. 

In this same period, we have received heartbreaking updates from the province of Idlib (northwestern Syria), where 300,000 civilians have been forced to flee their homes in only the latest wave of displacement. Many have been left wounded or lost their lives between demolished hospitals and schools, trying to escape the rain of airstrikes by Russia and the Syrian regime since early December. And statistics show that at least half a million would be forced to do the same in the coming weeks if Russia and Syrian airstrikes continue. 

The center of our partner organisation Women Now for Development in Maarat al Numan (south of Idlib) has been completely destroyed. Luckily all staff are safe, but this center in particular has defied all odds since its establishment in 2014.

In Iraq, the nationwide wave of peaceful protests demanding reforms and an overhaul of the corrupt ruling regime have been faced with violence, leaving more than 500 unarmed protestors dead and thousands of injured and arbitrarily detained. The repressive regime in Iran also cracked down on peaceful protestors since November, causing a bloodbath that the country has not seen since 1979.

And if we move to another continent, then WILPF Nigeria and WILPF Cameroon are reporting on violence in several regions. Just this last Monday, many people were killed on a crowded bridge in the northeastern Nigerian state of Borno after an improvised explosive device detonated. 

Move the Money from War to Peace

Members of WILPF have been protesting for peace, justice and equal rights around the world including in the US. 

Did you know that the US President just spent $2 Trillion on military equipment?

Imagine what we could do with the $ spent by the US Government on military equipment within the first five days of 2020? 

– $1 can pay for a bus ticket to get to a local election to vote for a female candidate.

– $1.000.000 can on average provide 7,633 girls with a quality primary education in low-income countries.

– $100.000.000 will fund demining efforts in Western Sahara.

– $ will cover universal, fee-free primary and secondary education for 2.5 years

Still, governments continue to spend tax money on the war and destruction of our planet rather than in peace for our people. 

New Year – New Challenges – New Strength

As we enter 2020, WILPF members are organising locally and globally to act for peace. Our analysis underlines the links between militarism, the economics that fuel it, the gender relations that support it, and the inevitability of climate destruction if we fail to address all of these root causes of war and violence.

Our time is now, let us make sure we use it right!

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WILPF International Secretariat

WILPF International Secretariat, with offices in Geneva and New York, liaises with the International Board and the National Sections and Groups for the implementation of WILPF International Programme, resolutions and policies as adopted by the International Congress. Under the direction of the Secretary-General, the Secretariat also provides support in areas of advocacy, communications, and financial operations.

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Thank you!

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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