On 28 April 1915, during World War I, a unique group of 1,136 women from warring and neutral nations gathered in The Hague, the Netherlands, to discuss how to end the war and ensure permanent peace. The meeting ended with the foundation of the Women’s International League of Peace and Freedom.
The organisers of the congress were prominent suffragists, who saw the link between their struggle for women’s right and the struggle for peace. They believed that the full and equal participation of women in the decision-making processes was necessary to achieve sustainable peace.
And they were right.
Today, more than 100 years later, WILPF is still advocating that women lead the way to change, and that peace is only possible when more women with feminist approaches will hold more positions of power, responsibility, and influence.
WILPF is a membership-led organisation. Its highest decision-making body is the International Congress, which meets every third year to discuss the work of WILPF and set the policies and direction of WILPF.
Members either join one of the WILPF National Sections or National Groups, or become international members if no National Section or Group is present in their countries. The work of WILPF National Sections and Groups is based on the aims and principles of WILPF and the International Programme adopted by the International Congress.
Between Congresses, WILPF’s International Board is responsible for the overall governance of WILPF and for WILPF achieving its aims and principles. The International Board also ensures that the decisions adopted by Congress are implemented. The International Board is composed of the President, two Vice-Presidents, the Treasurer, and one Regional Representative or one alternate Regional Representative for each region (currently Africa, Asia Pacific, South Asia, Europe, Middle East and North Africa (MENA) and the Americas). The Secretary-General is also part of the International Board but in a non-voting advisory role.
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.
The WILPF International Board is composed of 17 members: the President, two Vice-Presidents, a Treasurer, one Regional Representative and one Regional Alternative Representative from six regions, Africa, the Americas, Asia Pacific, Europe, Middle East and North Africa (MENA), and South Asia, and the Secretary-General. In the period 2018 – 2021 the International Board consists of:
Joy Ada Onyesoh is a passionate feminist peacebuilder. She is the Director of WILPF Nigeria and was an International Vice-President of WILPF between 2014 and 2018.
Previously, Joy worked in different capacities across several organisations developing expertise that span from management and organisational development to advocacy for a feminist political agenda. She has over a decade of experience working as a consultant on Women Peace and Security as well as five-year of experience in transformative leadership. Joy is also the founder and President of a foundation that provides support to indigent communities and people living in Nigeria. In her role as WILPF International President, Joy sustains movement building, by embracing the transformation of gendered power structures and engaging Sections in content sharing through various medium.
Margrethe Tingstad has been a member of WILPF for more than 30 years. Already International Vice-President from 2015 to 2018, she was re-elected for three more years in 2018. Since 2000 Margrethe works as a full-time Adviser in research management at the Norwegian Institute for Nature Research (NINA). In addition to her continuous dedication to WILPF’s vision, she is a Council Member at the Nansen Peace and Dialogue Centre and at The Hardanger Academy for Peace, Development and Environment, both located in Norway. Margrethe also serves as a magistrate in the municipal arbitration board in her local town. In her role as Vice-President, Margrethe works towards developing an even bigger footprint of WILPF’s work and vision through an increased and improved mobilisation, coordination and communication. She also contributes to WILPF’s increased focus on the environmental impact of militarism.
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 WILPF US’ Practicum in Advocacy Programme at the United Nations. She holds a PhD in Social Work and currently works at the University of Texas as the Director of Human Trafficking Research at one of the university’s think tanks. Of Mexican descent, born on the US and Mexican border, and raised between the two countries, Melissa is mostly concerned with the protection of displaced Latinxs in the Americas. She is also involved with the American Red Cross as a volunteer, trainer, and researcher focused on post-disaster aid distribution and work with undocumented Latinxs. 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.
Kerry McGovern has been a member of WILPF for more than 10 years and served as WILPF International Treasurer from 2015 to 2018. Among her roles in WILPF, she is also a member of the Standing Finance Committee and the convener of the Standing Committee on Risk Management. Kerry has worked as a consultant to the public sector for twenty-five years and has expertise in governance and in working with organisations to strengthen their capability including designing and implementing internal controls, monitoring, reporting and risk management. In addition, Kerry is also the Treasurer of the Australian Chapter of the Eastern Regional Organisation for Planning and Human Settlements (EAROPH). As International Treasurer, her primary role is to strengthen the financial management of WILPF, support the implementation of WILPF’s International Programme 2018-2021 and to work with Sections to improve their financial management capabilities.
Sylvie Jacqueline Ndongmo has been involved in WILPF since 2012 and has been a member of the International Board between 2015 and 2018. Prior to her election as Africa Regional Representative, Sylvie Jacqueline Ndongmo was WILPF Cameroon Section President and co-coordinator of the African Working Group. Her first contact with WILPF was in 2012 at the AWD Forum in Istanbul, where she got fascinated by the amazing work done by WILPF all over the world to end war and build sustainable peace. Sylvie is a teacher by profession and an African Union Trainer in peace support operations. She has 20 years of experience advocating for the political and social rights of Cameroonian and African women. Before joining WILPF she created the organisation Women’s Peace Initiative in 2008 and she also supported the establishment of a network of women in media in Central Africa. Sylvie is also a member of the African Union Steering committee for the Fund for African Women. As Africa Regional Representative, Sylvie plans to expand WILPF’s vision in Africa by building regional cooperation, coaching WILPF Groups to become Sections and amplify African women’s voices globally.
Olivia Oseji has been a member of WILPF since 2007 and an International Board member between 2015 and 2018. Olivia is also the President of WILPF Nigeria and she previously held the position of national coordinator representing the Section at the African regional meetings. Apart from being engaged in WILPF, Olivia is a fashion entrepreneur and has broad experience in fundraising and strategic organising. As Africa Alternate Regional Representative, Olivia is supporting the communication among Sections and Groups in the region and strengthening mobilisation on projects to end violence against women.
Kozue Akibayashi has been a member of WILPF for the last 20 years. She was WILPF International Vice-President between 2007 and 2011 and WILPF International President between 2015 and 2018. Since she moved to Kyoto in 2006 she has been an active member of the Kyoto branch of WILPF Japan and has played an important liaison role with the Sections in the region. Kozue is a professor at Graduate School of Global Studies at Doshisha University in Kyoto, where her research focuses on issues of sexual violence by the military in overseas host communities, militarisation and demilitarisation, and decolonisation. She also serves on the Steering Committee of Women Cross DMZ, and she is the country coordinator for Japan in the International Women’s Network Against Militarism. In her role as Asia Pacific Regional Representative, Kozue hopes to strengthen the cooperation of Sections in the region and work towards a deeper understanding of the relationship between militarism and patriarchy.
Janette McLeod has been a member of WILPF for more than a decade, during which time she has held a number of different roles in WILPF Australia, including Section Treasurer and member of branch committee. From 2017, Janette has also served as a member of the Standing Finance Committee and she has been on the Standing Personnel Committee since 2018. In her role as the Asia Pacific Regional Alternate Representative, Janette aims to support the work of WILPF in the region, including using her experience on the Standing Finance Committee to assist section treasurers in the region. As well as her commitment to WILPF, Janette has been an activist with social justice and community groups in Australia. She has worked as a public servant in Australia for many years.
Heidi Meinzolt is a member of WILPF Germany for more than 30 years. She has been a member of the International Board for many years and served as a European coordinator in this period. Heidi was also the coordinator of WILPF’s Middle East Working Group and a member of the Standing Committee on Organisational Development. While being involved in multiple ways in structural and governance issues, Heidi has been working in the past years to intensify WILPF’s political impact bridging theory with practice. Her major concern is raising awareness among the general public about the importance of a feminist analysis of conflicts, highlighting aspects of justice, human security and freedom. Apart from her work with WILPF, she is also involved with the Civic Solidarity Platform (CSP) as the coordinator of the WG on “women and gender realities in the OSCE region” and she cooperated with the Women Engage for a Common Future (WECF) on issues of climate justice and SDGs. For Heidi, being the Europe Regional Representative means strengthening cooperation across WILPF Sections, coordinating WILPF’s impact on political decision-makers and institutions in Europe while fostering dialogue with partner organisations and creating synergies with other world regions.
Lina Hjärtström has been a member of WILPF since 2012 and started out working locally. The group worked with issues such as keeping Sweden out of NATO, migration and asylum rights, nuclear disarmament and feminist foreign policy. In WILPF Sweden, she is also part of the National Board, and works to connect the WILPF’s international efforts with those carried out by the Swedish Section. Lina currently works as an asylum case officer with the Swedish Migration Agency. In her capacity as Europe Alternate Regional Representative, Lina continues to explore ways to build better communication and cooperation between the International Board, WILPF Sections and the International Programmes, with an extra eye on young WILPFers.
Dr. Hanan Awwad is the President of WILPF Palestine, which she founded in 1988, and the head of the Middle East Committee. Hanan has devoted her time and efforts to support and defend peace, human rights and women’s dignity in conflict areas. Hanan is an ambassador to her cause on the international level, a cultural advisor to his excellency Yasser Arafat, and elected member of Palestine National Council. She played a vital role in defending her country, represented it in more than six hundred congresses and conferences and met with State Presidents and Prime Ministers on behalf of the President of Palestine.
As a universal advocate to human dignity, committed writer and scholar, Hanan believes that building cultural bridges between struggling women is an unavoidable goal and encourages the creation of WILPF Sections in Arab Nations to give women the opportunity to overcome any obstacle and to understand women’s experiences in other sections.
As IB member, Hannan would like to play a role in developing work that embodies an agenda which consistently highlights universal ethics, principles, and freedoms.
Jamila 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) founded in 2000. Jamila have experience of working in areas that include education, migration-related issues, gender issues, democratic governance in post-conflict and transitional countries, GBV. She is also a trainer and has designed and delivered trainings on gender in elections, political participation, leadership, Islam and women’s rights and for civil society gender, human rights, women rights, right of persons with disability management, leadership and gender equality issues. Jamila was a member of the government and represent Afghanistan in high UN, EU level gatherings. To be part of the IB representing the Sections in South Asia will be a great honour.
Madeleine Rees has been the Secretary-General of WILPF since 2010. She began her career as a lawyer in 1990 and in 1998, she started working as Head of Office in Bosnia and Herzegovina and as gender expert for the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights. From September 2006 to April 2010, she served as the Head of the Women’s Rights and Gender Unit for the OHCHR. Her work involved describing and outlining how men and women can experience events differently, particularly in post-conflict situations.
Global Programmes at a Glance
Total and universal disarmament is one of the founding goals of WILPF. Today, WILPF works to promote human security and achieve sustainable peace through the Reaching Critical Will programme, and additionally applying a gender perspective to the conversation on weapons and war.
Women, Peace and Security
War and violence bring with them certain gendered dimensions that disproportionately impact women. Through the PeaceWomen programme, WILPF advocates to advance the rights of women in conflict and post-conflict situations, and the participation of women in peace-making processes.
WILPF addresses human rights through an ‘Integrated Approach’ which brings together issues of Peace and Security with Women’s Human Rights. Working on the international, regional and local levels, WILPF advocates for Peace and Security as integral to human rights to UN human rights bodies.
With a focus on key crisis regions, the programme provides a gendered conflict analysis in order to strengthen women’s capacity and access to engage effectively in transition and peace processes. The programme aims to support, strengthen and bring women’s experiences to relevant international arenas, such as the UN security council.
Meet WILPF International Secretariat
WILPF International Secretariat currently consists of two offices, one in Geneva (GVA), and one in New York (NY).
Want to work with us? Have a look on our career page to check WILPF opportunities to work on feminist peace.
Telephone: +41 (0) 22 919 70 80
New York Office
Telephone: (+1) 212 682 1265
Madeleine Rees (GVA)
secretariat (a) wilpf.org
Office: +41 (0) 22 919 70 80
Mobile: +41 (0) 78 763 90 16
+27 73 944 40 80
Contact: communications (a) wilpf.org
Nina Hansen (GVA)
+41 (0) 22 919 70 80
Maritie Gaidon (GVA)
+41 (0) 22 919 70 80
Alina Kiel (GVA)
Contact: membership (a) wilpf.org
Elena Cason (GVA)
+41 (0) 22 919 70 80
Membership and Office Management Intern
Beada Adalmiina Erkkola (GVA)
Maria Butler (GVA)
maria.butler (a) wilpf.org
HUMAN RIGHTS PROGRAMME
Patrizia Scannella (GVA)
patrizia.scannella (a) wilpf.org
+41 (0) 22 919 70 80
Tessa Cerisier (GVA)
tessa.cerisier (a) wilpf.org
+41 (0) 22 919 70 80
Human Rights Intern
Martina Daelli (GVA)
martina.daelli (a) wilpf.org
WOMEN, PEACE AND SECURITY PROGRAMME
Zarin Hamid (NY)
zarin.hamid (a) wilpf.org
(+1) 212 682 1265
CRISIS RESPONSE PROGRAMME
MENA Events Assistant
Nihad Kasmi (GVA)
+41 (0) 22 919 70 80
WOMEN ORGANISING FOR CHANGE IN BOSNIA PROJECT
Nela Porobić Isaković (BiH)
nela.porobic (a) wilpf.org
+387 (0) 61 417 276
We are very grateful for the generous support of all our donors. While respecting and preserving WILPF’s independence, they help us achieve our mission in promoting sustainable peace and strengthening feminist movements all around the world.
WILPF Annual Report 2018
The 2018 Annual Report gives a snapshot of the many achievements and activities carried out by WILPF members and partners throughout the world in 2018.
As the world’s longest standing women peace organisation, WILPF collaborates with peace activists and has activities in nearly 60 countries all over the globe. The stories of work selected for the Annual Report highlight the work done in countries such as Nigeria, Ukraine, Syria or Colombia.
In 2018, WILPF hosted its 32nd International Congress in Ghana where for the first time, an international President from the African Region was elected.
WILPF Annual Report 2017
The 2017 Annual report will give you insights into WILPF 2017 achievements: from banning nuclear weapons, to the convening to reclaim the UN, to amplifying the voices of grassroots women peace activists, 2017 was about creating new spaces.
In 2017, WILPF’s work showed great progress towards achieving six strategic outcomes which contribute to advancing feminist peace: transform gendered power, stigmatisation of war and violence, feminist political economy, movement building, amplify local and regional change, improve multilateral actions.
WILPF Annual Report 2016
In 2016, the initiatives and achievements of WILPF International, our programmes, partners and many sections were varied and diverse. The Annual Report 2016 will take you throughout the world and show how our staff and sections worked brilliantly to think and act differently.
The report will also give you insights into the work of WILPF, the implementation of a new strategy, cross-border partnerships, the importance of feminist movement building, and an introduction to the term ‘feminist peace’ upon which WILPF bases its entire work.
WILPF Annual Report 2015
In 2015, WILPF celebrated 100 years of advocacy and activism for peace. We held our Centennial Congress in The Hague, the Netherlands, welcomed three new Sections, and adopted a renewed WILPF manifesto. Most importantly we organised the peace summit “Women’s Power to Stop War” gathering more than 1,000 peace activists from more than 80 different countries. Please read about all our international activities in 2015 and get some snippets from our national work around the globe.
WILPF Annual Report 2014
Throughout 2014, WILPF has been using its Integrated Approach to link human rights, women’s participation, disarmament, justice and development, and to bring women’s voices from the local level to the highest UN decision-making bodies. Read more about all our national and international activities in 2014.
WILPF Section Reports 2014
In 2014, Sections promoted WILPF’s mission of gender equality, peace, and disarmament around the world. This was facilitated through preparations for WILPF’s upcoming centennial anniversary in April 2015, around the Women’s Power to Stop War movement. For example, WILPF Nigeria facilitated trainings on related Women, Peace and Security topics, WILPF Spain held lectures on WILPF history, and WILPF Australia lobbied for the implementation of the Australia’s National Action Plan on Women, Peace and Security.
WILPF Annual Report 2013
From the grassroots work in our Sections to the ground breaking work on Syria and Bosnia, we have sought to use and explain how to understand gender and gender relations, focus on the real experience of women and bring that into the multi lateral fora. We have been ‘Organising for change.’ Read more about all our national and international activities in 2013.
WILPF Annual Report 2012
2012 was a strong year financially for our organisation. From 2011 to 2012, within the span of just one year, WILPF doubled its revenue. The overwhelming support from donors and contributors who share our vision enabled WILPF to expand the number, size, and scope of its programmes, projects and activities. Read more about all our national and international activities in 2012.
Section Reports 2012
In 2012 WILPF Sections and branches worked together as a community to advance WILPF’s mission to ensure human rights on a global level.As a collective, the Sections raised awareness and submitted National Action Plans on the United Nations Security resolution 1325 (UNSCR 1325) on Women, Peace and Security. As well, each Section focused on pressing issues in their respective countries. For example, WILPF Bolivia launched campaigns on domestic violence, WILPF Sweden addressed demilitarisation, and WILPF India presented seminars on female foeticide.