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Peace Is Solidarity – A Message from Jamila Afghani, WILPF Vice President

With the arrival of the International Day of Peace this week, 21 September, we dedicate these days to our commitment to peace, for all. Let’s begin with a message from our Vice President, Jamila Afghani.

Image credit: Étienne Girardet
Jamila Afghani
19 September 2022

Dear sisters,

This week we will observe International Peace Day – when wars are getting wider in Afghanistan, Ukraine, Armenia, Palestinian, and many more countries are flooded, many others are facing hunger and unrest and so many more face different kinds of problems. Here I want to amplify the voices of 17 million Afghan girls and women who are experiencing an extremely unique dilemma in human history. Currently, women and girls in Afghanistan are deprived of their fundamental rights to education, employment, and social and political rights.

The crimes and injustices that are taking place in Afghanistan are unforgivable. Many Afghans are scattered and dispersed in every part of the world; Afghanistan and her people are more fragmented than before and are facing bureaucratic refugee and resettlement policies, while our beloveds are left behind in the face of strict inhumane rules, vulnerable to physical danger and financial insecurities.

Afghanistan has become a juxtaposition; we see that there are natural disasters in some parts of Afghanistan, while all of Afghanistan is exposed to a large man-made catastrophe. In democratic countries, you cannot bring yourselves to comprehend and fathom the political climate of Afghanistan. The thought of a parent selling their daughter to get food, the increasing risk of illegal migration in order to secure their children’s future and the high number of people selling all of their assets in order to find a way to sustain themselves nutritionally for a few days, seems far away from your reality. But this is the reality in Afghanistan. Today, Afghans are paying the price of false promises with our lives. And no one can comprehend lightly what the people of Afghanistan are going through due to the wrong strategies of national, regional, and international politicians – and which Afghan women often were not given a say.

International Peace Day is a time when we should stand all together in sisterhood and solidarity to amplify each other voices around the world in order to get practical, active, and unsurmountable support for the people of Afghanistan, Ukraine, Palestine, and any other place where girls and women are suffering war, conflict, unjust, militarised masculinity and cultural norms which have made the everyday life of girls and women difficult

“Peace” has different meanings for different girls and women around the world. Someone may see peace in equal education opportunities for their children. Some others may find peace in having enough food, some others may find peace in employment, and some may believe peace of mind is crucial. The absence of physical war may be peace for a politician, but not for us. For us, women, peace has so many meanings. I believe “real peace” is the “peace” where every girl and woman can have equal access to all opportunities and have a dignified human life with physical and mental peace, and no political change can bargain women’s human rights.

Our dream for a peaceful and just society should not remain as always a dream. We need to make this dream a reality by joining hands in solidarity, unity, sisterhood and accept diversity and differences. And when needed we have to be able to lean on each other, shoulder each other, and embrace each other.

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Jamilia Afghani Portrait

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.

Melissa Torres

VICE-PRESIDENT

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

VICE-PRESIDENT

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

PRESIDENT

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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Demilitarisation

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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