Advancing peace by advocating for respect, protection and promotion of human rights

The Human Rights Programme contributes to advancing WILPF’s vision for feminist peace through integrated human rights analysis, advocacy, research and training.

In our advocacy within United Nations (UN) human rights bodies, we connect and highlight interlinkages between human rights, disarmament, gender, the Women, Peace and Security Agenda, non-discrimination, socio-economic justice and the environment. We highlight the human rights impacts of the arms trade, nuclear weapons and military spending, push for justice and demand prioritisation of social justice and ecological well-being.

To this end, we support the participation of women human rights defenders and feminist activists within UN human rights bodies, identifying opportunities for advocacy and providing technical expertise and training to facilitate that engagement. Through our active collaborations, especially with human rights and feminist organisations, we strategise, build on synergies and carry out collective actions to advance human rights.

Why Human Rights?

WILPF has been actively involved in promoting peace, human rights and gender justice since we were founded in 1915. From its creation, WILPF has understood that the enjoyment of human rights for all is the cornerstone for peace.

While our human rights work has evolved over the decades in response to changing global circumstances, our core commitment remains unchanged: to advance the enjoyment of freedom, human rights and justice for all without discrimination based on gender or any other grounds.

In 2012, WILPF established the Human Rights Programme to consolidate and strengthen its analysis and advocacy efforts with international human rights bodies, in order to influence policy at both the national and international levels. WILPF’s work on human rights intersects with work on other thematic areas or on countries.

What We Do


We identify advocacy opportunities within the UN human rights system and provide pathways for WILPF Sections and Groups and national partners to use these opportunities.

Through this work, we help to bring their contextualised feminist analysis of conflict, violence and discrimination to the attention of UN human rights bodies, the Geneva diplomatic community and other relevant actors.

We also support advocacy and awareness-raising initiatives that translate UN human rights recommendations into local and national actions to advance the changes they are campaigning for. And we advocate for the rights of human rights defenders and civil society participation within UN human rights bodies.

We offer training and opportunities for cross-learning, provide advice on written submissions and statements and offer strategy advice, including on how to use advocacy outcomes at the national level. As part of our advocacy, we also prepare reports, statements and other materials for use with UN human rights bodies in order to push for accountability. Through a combination of public and private advocacy activities, we seek to influence policy at both national and international levels, much as our founders aimed to do in the face of the global challenges of their time.


A core part of our work is to strategically use international human rights law and frameworks not only to advocate for their implementation, but also to push for a progressive interpretation and evolution of these norms.

As part of this, we develop legal analysis to connect states’ obligations concerning disarmament law, armed conflict, gender and socio-economic justice. For example, we use human rights advocacy to demand an end to militarism, including by pushing for nuclear disarmament, reparation for past nuclear testing, reduction in military spending and halting production and transfers of weapons and surveillance technologies.


As WILPF believes that peace can only be attained when the rights of everyone, everywhere are respected and fulfilled, a core tenet of our legal human rights advocacy is also to push for accountability of states and other actors.

This includes accountability not only for the human rights of individuals on their territory but also to keep them accountable for their actions beyond their borders (so-called extraterritorial human rights obligations). This is particularly relevant to issues related to foreign policy, including the arms trade, conflict and environmental issues.

Access Our Advocacy Database

All reports and statements are available on the WILPF Advocacy Documents database. These include statements to the UN Human Rights Council, and submissions to the Universal Periodic Review, the CEDAW Committee, the Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (CESCR) and the Human Rights Committee.


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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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