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Press Release: WILPF Releases its Gender-Militarism Analysis of the UNGA72 General Debate

12 October 2017

The Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom is publishing its annual analysis of the General Debate of the UN General Assembly seen from gender and militarism perspectives. The analysis demonstrates that despite rhetorical progress, transformative and holistic agendas for peace are being watered down, and new language is being used by Member States to justify ‘business as usual’.

The Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom (WILPF) has monitored and analysed the General Debate of the 72nd session of the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA72) for references to women, disarmament and conflict prevention, as well as to a number of focus countries, and shared a report as part of our accountability work.

In his opening statement, Miroslav Lajcak, the President of the General Assembly stated, “Women’s leadership and participation should be a priority in settings of both conflict and peace.” This message was supported by 128 speakers during the General Debate, who specifically addressed the situations of women in the world.

At the same time, the understanding of ‘prevention’ and women’s role in it was often disturbingly limited, focusing exclusively on adding women to militarised institutions as a measure to prevent sexual and gender-based violence (SGBV). “Women did not create UNSCR 1325 to add women to the military but to end war. The time is now to take holistic action on prevention that builds women’s livelihoods and promotes demilitarisation and disarmament,” said Abigail Ruane, WILPF’s Women, Peace and Security programme Director.

On Women, Peace and Security (WPS), WILPF analysis demonstrates that the UNGA72 General Debate lacked an in-depth discussion on implementation, with only five countries referencing the WPS Agenda in their statements and only fifty speakers providing more specific and policy-oriented statements on gender equality and women’s meaningful participation.

Other elements necessary for building peace also lacked a policy-oriented discussion. Conflict prevention was presented as an area where discussion is aspirational rather than oriented towards specific objectives and actions. The discussion on disarmament was also devoid of it analysis addressing the effect of militarism and the spread of weapons on women and their rights.

WILPF’s eighty-pages UNGA72 analysis is divided into several sections, including gender and militarism analysis, review of the situation in WILPF’s focus countries, including Syria, Libya, Yemen, Colombia and Nigeria. It also features all government statements delivered during the UNGA72 General Debate in a form of Gender Index with relevant extracts of statements.

WILPF has monitored the implementation of the WPS Agenda since its first resolution was adopted in 2000, and the annual monitoring analysis of the UNGA General Debate is made in order to demand accountability and action for conflict prevention, disarmament and women’s meaningful participation.

The goal of this report is to demand accountability for the implementation of the Women, Peace and Security Agenda and strengthen policy coherence across other frameworks, including the Sustainable Development and Sustaining Peace Agendas. The report also supports policy-oriented advocacy and academic research on Women, Peace and Security, conflict prevention and transitional peace processes and provides an opportunity for local activists in focus countries to develop policy-oriented actions based on the current international climate.

Download the report: Index of Statements Made During the General Debate of the 72nd Session of the General Assembly (19-25 September 2017)

Download the Press Release as PDF: Press Release: WILPF Releases its Gender-Militarism Analysis of the UNGA72 General Debate

For more information please contact: Abigail Ruane, WILPF’s Women, Peace and Security Programme Director, tel: 1.212.682.1265, email: abigail(a)


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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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