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Press Release: WILPF Launches Toolkit: Weapons, War and Women in the MENA Region

22 June 2017

WILPF Launches Toolkit: Weapons, War and Women in the MENA Region 

The Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom is launching a toolkit on ‘Weapons, War and Women in the MENA Region’. The toolkit aims to expose the flow of arms into conflicts in the MENA region and the disproportionate effects of certain weapons on women. This toolkit provides non-governmental organisations with the resources to integrate gender perspective into tracking arms transfer and the impact of the latter on civilians.

“The impact of the use of arms on women continues to be noticably absent from the discussion on conflict. These arms have been produced and exported by profiteering states and suppliers who need to be held accountable for the suffering and devastation resulting from them. This toolkit aims to bring this element into the discussion and support our partners with credible resources on where these arms come from, how they impact the lives of women and what can be done about them”, says Laila Alodaat, WILPF Crisis Response Programme Manager.

Why create this toolkit?

The excessive flow of weapons into Middle East and North African region have been fueling and exacerbating the deadly conflicts in countries such as Syria, Iraq, Libya and Yemen. The use of these weapons has led to the destruction of essential infrastructures. Women often suffer disproportionately from the use of explosive weapons in populated area, as well as the use of smaller arms and guns, particularly when the latter are brought home and aggravate domestic violence.

The transfers of arms into the MENA region and their disproportionate effects on women are rarely discussed and examined by the media. WILPF believes that the media plays an extremely important role in exposing issues such as these arms transfers. Not only is it crucial to uncover these transfers and those benefitting from them but it is also important to emphasise the disproportionate effects the transfers of arms have on women. Regrettably, these effects on women are not well-known or acknowledged.

The media plays a great role in revealing the consequences of actions taken by governments and armed actors. WILPF believes in cooperating with media outlets and platforms to cover and raise awareness about this issue and the gendered dimension as there is a lack of thereof.

What is its purpose?

The toolkit, unlike many other resources, emphasises the gendered dimension of arms transfer and highlights how arms transfers to armed groups and governments in the region can be linked to gender-based violence and inflict disproportionate effects on women.

This toolkit is aimed at:

  • Raising overall awareness about the arms transfers into the MENA region and more importantly the disproportionate impact they have on women
  • Helping WILPF partners to integrate gender perspectives into arms transfers and militarization by providing the resources in the local language (Arabic)
  • Highlighting the relationships between gender, wars and arms transfers, particularly how different types of weapons impact women disproportionately during conflict
  • Providing the foundation for local and international activists and NGOs to conduct advocacy around the use and transfer of arms in the MENA region and raise awareness around the rarely discussed gendered impacts of militarisation

What is in the toolkit?

The toolkit is composed of the following:

  • Webinar in Arabic that seeks to examine and discuss arms transfers to governments and armed actors in the MENA region, their connection to bombings of populated areas as well as to gender-based violence, and highlight the challenges of tracking these transfers and the international efforts to stop them.
  • Infographic in Arabic and English that aims to expose arms transfers to Iraq, Libya, Syria and Yemen, and shed light on their devastating effects in terms of casualties, humanitarian need, sexual and gender-based violence, and displacement.
  • Video in Arabic with English subtitles that serves as informative tool to highlight the gendered impacts of arms transfers.

WILPF monitors and analyses the impact of international arms trade that fuels conflict in the MENA region on civilian population, particularly women and girls. We track the origin of the flow of weapons, the individuals and groups using these weapons, the casualties caused by the arms and the way they change the lives of women and girls. WILPF advocates to stop the transfer of arms on the national and international levels and expose those profiteering from violence in the MENA.

Download the press release: WILPF Launches Toolkit: Weapons, War and Women in the MENA Region

For more information please contact: Sarah Boukhary, WILPF Crisis Response Programme Associate, tel: +41 22 919 70 80 / email: sboukhary@wilpf.ch

 

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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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