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On GDAMS, WILPF Sections Want to #MoveTheMoney

14 April 2014

Today, 14 April 2014, marks the 4th consecutive year of the Global Day Against Military Spending (GDAMS) promoted by the International Peace Bureau (IPB). Falling for the second year on the day of the release of SIPRI report on national military spending.

WILPF International Secretariat reached out to WILPF Sections for support. By using the Stockholm’s International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI) database they were able to put together the 2012 military expenditure and proposed to #movethemoney to other more pressing internal policies.

Find out more about the changes between 2012 and 2013 military expenditures by reading what Reaching Critical Will has analysed from the newly released SIPRI database.

Global Military Expenditures in 2012
Global Military Expenditures in 2012

WILPF Sections suggetions

United Kingdom: a national plan for legal support to citizens with low-income wages would be needed.

WILPF’s UK Sections have been traditionally active in tackling government’s activity related to military spending and to respond with actions and campaign to raise awareness about the enormous waste of resources in this field.

They highlighted that on an overall $ 60.8bn, 3bn are spent on nuclear weapons.

There is plenty of wiser ways to spend this money. A suggestion is to reallocate these resources on a legal aid plan for people with low-income wages or currently helped by state welfare in order to for them to receive costless legal support. In particular, if these resources were reallocated, it would be possible to set a legal aid budget for the next 18.26 years.

New Zealand: wouldn’t $3 bn NZD be better invested in the community and children’s futures?

New Zealand spoke of supporting government recommendations to alleviate child poverty and this would subsequently have a roll-on affect in the community. Policies such as raising the minimum wage and increasing unemployment welfare would enable families to better provide for themselves. This, in turn, would deplete child poverty and domestic violence.

Spain: investment should prioritize free public education and daycare.

The same direction was embraced by the Spanish section who suggested to #movethemoney, 8.9 bn euros of it, into providing the resources for every child in Spain to attend public education and daycare when under the age of 6. Such a policy may allow some parents to return to work, and boost the economy.

Norway: let’s invest on happiness!

Norway similarly suggested moving the 40 bn NOK into tax refunds and therefore further boosting the economy.  Along side this the Norwegian section proposed measure to increase national happiness. This idea emphasizes that instead of spending such amounts on militaries, these resources should be invested in to the community to pursue happiness and success.

Sweden: programmes for women in need are currently underfunded.

How Military Expenditures violate Human Rights
How Military Expenditures violate Human Rights

The Swedish section reported that 42 bn SEK was spent in military expenditure 2012 and proposed to reallocate this money to increase the assistance to women in need.

This would have a real impact on increasing security and safety for women, as well as helping to create a less stressful working environment for midwives, which would decrease the risks of childbirth related complications for both mothers and babies.

Currently, the Swedish government supports women’s shelters with ca. 42 million SEK annually.

The Swedish Association of Women’s Shelters and Young Women’s Empowerment Centers (SKR) reported in 2012 that they had to say no to 64 percent of the women who came to them for shelter. SKR were forced to say no to 1929 women and 603 children.

With more support, SKR and other organisations could do more preventive work, and ensure protection and shelter for all women and children that need it.

Recent numbers (2014) from the Swedish National Board of Health and Welfare show a lack of midwifes in more than 50 percent of all Swedish councils. According to Swedish Radio (2013), from 2010 to 2013 there were 8 cases of babies dying during delivery. Investigations show that the lack of personnel, the lack of hospital beds and a stressful working environment for midwives can have contributed to these tragic events. Experts say 4000 women suffer from severe birth injuries every year but experts that the Swedish national television (SVT) have talked to estimates that the number may be as high as 10000.

According to a campaign by Young Greens of Sweden, a 1 billion SEK investment would be enough to pay for 1 819 midwives.

Italy: Let’s start investing in our youth, the country need their skills in order to recover

In 2012, Italy spent $ 34 bn in military expenditure.

Currently almost 40% of young people are unemployed and the economy is collapsing. Government(s)’ response in the last few years has been to cut funding transversally to all areas of social security and welfare. It is surprisingly thou that while applying such rigorous austerity measures to some areas, Austerity’ did not apply to military spending.

WILPF Italia thus proposed to invert this trend and to start re-investing in people, rather than in armaments. In particular, they pointed out the need to address the unwholesome issue of young highly qualified workforce migration to foreign countries due to the lack of investments in research in Italy. On the long term, this human capital is a loss for the country which cannot be afford anymore.

With the investments made in the military sector in the year 2012 it would be possible to create jobs for 2.000 new researchers for 4 years (the average time for research programme). Plus, $8 bn would still be available to create a national plan to help young people to find job aw well as provide them the skills they might require to fit the marketplace.

Get active

All these investments in arms are underpinned by the belief that state’s security can be provided through the threat of violence. On the 4th Global Day on Military Spending, WILPF Sections are challenging this perspective on security and calling on governments to invest more money in human development.

So, follow us on Facebook and Twitter to find out more about our section’s suggestions and spread our message!

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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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