Celebrating Feminists’ Voices, Inspiring Global Peace

Our Power to Stop War

31 March 2014

The European sections met on the 20th of March in Berlin for three days for their regional meeting. Heidi Meinzolt, the International Board member from the German section, has written a summary of the event.

European Regional Meeting
Photo by Brigitte Cassigneul from WILPF France

It was good and inspiring to meet face to face on a transnational level! There were many topics to discuss, visions and concrete ideas to exchange with old and new friends and nearly each section was present except for Albania and Sweden.

The meeting was linked to the conference of the Gender Institute of the Heinrich Böll Foundation on the topic of “gender equality and peace in the EU” which featured contributions by Heidi Meinzolt and a speech by Barbara Lochbihler. To mixing it up a bit, the meeting included walks along the historical Berlin Wall.

The Regional meeting was lucky to be able host guests. We were happy to have Edith Ballantyne with us to reflect upon long-term commitments and urgencies of WILPF’s engagement. Similarly, having Emma Burgisser as the 100th anniversary coordinator enthusiastically speaking about the planning of 2015 events.

We started with an intensive – and sometimes even controversial- debate on the threat of war in Ukraine under the premise of “what have we learned out of WILPF history which is still relevant to be said in this actual situation?”

WILPFers raised their voices condemning the total lack of prevention and political sensibility in the lead up to the burning conflict and against continuous escalation and militarisation in media and western governments presences. We strongly appealed to all European countries to support non-interference of NATO and stop immediately any further militarisation of the conflict, including weapons’ trade to all sides and unilateral sanctions. Finally we emphasised on the will to build trust and invest actively in peace (diplomacy, deployment of OSCE mediators and shifting activities from the EU to the Council of Europe, supporting diversity, differences and the rights of the (indigenous) people).

In the preparation of the upcoming European Parliament elections we discussed our main focus in regards to European peace politics. Sections proposed a common brochure prepared by the Dutch section eight years ago, combined with proposals from the German section including a broadening of conflict prevention measures, de-militarisation of EU foreign and “defence” politics, a positioning against “the fortress Europe” with fundamental changes in the refugee and asylum politics and a “no” to planned trade agreements.

We discussed with Margarethe Tingstad, convenor of the ad hoc committee, the logic and necessities of a possible structural reform of WILPF and its additional value regarding the strength of the organisation. The report was largely welcomed and the proposals on a greater regionalisation in principle supported. The next IB meeting will have to decide on further procedures.

Last but not least we were enthusiastic about the plans and preparation of the 100th anniversary – with so many good ideas and tasks to take home in our sections!

WILPF is great! Lay down the arms!


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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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