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Press Release: Thousands of Women March in New York City and Around the World to Demand Nuclear Disarmament

17 June 2017

Today, on 17 June, thousands of women are gathering in New York City and around the world to protest nuclear weapons and support their prohibition. The Women’s March to Ban the Bomb take place two days after the opening of negotiations for a international treaty to ban nuclear weapons and is an entirely women-led initiative, following in the footsteps of decades of women’s leadership in anti-nuclear activism.

The Women’s March to Ban the Bomb takes place as around 130 governments resume negotiations in the United Nations on a ground breaking new treaty that will ban nuclear weapons. When adopted, such a treaty will make it illegal for any signatory country to possess nuclear weapons and will impose economic, legal, political, and social barriers to nuclear weapon possession. It will further stigmatize nuclear weapons and help compel their elimination.

“The sufferings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki have continued through generations. It is time for the governments to listen to the voices of women calling for elimination of nuclear weapons, and this is why you will find us on the streets today” stated Kozue Akibayashi, the President of the Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom (WILPF), which is hosting the march.

“Securing a nuclear-free planet is not a luxury but rather it is a requirement for our collective future,” says Leslie Cagan, the lead organizer of the one million person march in New York in 1982 who is now an organizer for the People’s Climate Mobilization and who is speaking at the rally.

Despite being staunch advocates for disarmament and peace women’s voices are often overlooked or marginalized in disarmament and security decision-making processes, as are the voices of other groups whose lives and communities are impacted by nuclear weapon testing, developing, stationing or maintenance.

The 130 countries that support the ban treaty face opposition from nuclear-armed countries and their nuclear-supportive allies. One of those being the United States. Ray Acheson, programme director at WILPF says “The United States is spending $1 trillion USD over the next thirty years to modernize its nuclear weapon arsenals and triple the killing power of these weapons.” This excessive spending comes in contrast to proposed cuts to vital anti-poverty programmes and healthcare – including reproductive rights – which will have a disproportionate impact on women.

WILPF and its event partners see a connection between the current momentum of political resistance in the United States and what is happening inside the UN. There are similarities in the demands for a change to the status quo and frustration with double standards and false promises.

“Just as many people have been marching in the United States for justice and equality, inside the United Nations smaller and less influential countries are standing up to the powerful nations that hold us hostage by having these weapons,” continues Ms. Acheson.

The march is hosted by the Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom (WILPF) and supported by dozens of co-sponsor and partner organizations that are representative of peace, disarmament, women’s rights, indigenous, environmental, and human rights communities, among others.

There are over 60 sister events are taking place in other cities across the United States, such as in Australia, Cameroon, Canada, Germany, Ghana, Italy, Japan, the Netherlands, Nigeria, New Zealand, Philippines, Switzerland, and the UK.


Download Press Release as PDF.

The event begins at 12:00 with kick-off speeches and music on 41st St. between Sixth Avenue and Broadway. The march will move east along 42nd St., turning north on 3rd Avenue before ending at Dag Hammarskjold Plaza (47th St. between 1st and 2nd Avenue) across the street from the United Nations. A rally is planned with an all-female line-up of speakers and musical performers. See attachment for a full list and biographies.

This is an excellent opportunity for photographs. Our collection will be posted online at Flickr.

Details of the route, site and timings can be found on the event website: Find us on Twitter at @WILPF and @WMTBTB.

For more information or help to set up interviews with speakers or women activists before, during or after the march, please contact Allison Pytlak, WILPF programme manager, tel: +1 212 682 1265 / mobile: 603-479-5253/ email: allison(a)


  1. Co-organizers of the march and rally include: Hibakusha Stories, International Peace Bureau, Native Organizers Alliance, PAX, Peace Action New York State, Western States Legal Foundation, Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom (WILPF) (host), and WILPF-US. See the full list of sponsors and endorsers.
  1. Negotiations on a legally binding instrument to prohibit nuclear weapons will take place at the UN in New York from 15 June – 7 July 2017. This follows a first negotiating session that took place from 27-31 March 2017. WILPF is a member of the steering group of the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN), the leading civil society movement for the treaty. More resources about the ban can be found at or
  1. This event builds on a long history of women’s leadership in anti-nuclear activism – from protesting nuclear testing in the Bikini Atoll in the 1950s, to taking action in the UK against the stationing of US nuclear weapons decades later. In New York in 1982 women took the lead in organizing the anti-nuclear march that culminated in a rally in Central Park that was attended by over one million people.

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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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