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Press Release: WILPF Releases Its Gender-Militarism Analysis of the UNGA73 General Debate

WILPF is publishing a Gender Index of Statements made during the General Debate of the 73rd Session of the General Assembly, which examines the statements delivered from a feminist perspective and supports policy-oriented advocacy and academic research around specific geographic and thematic areas, including Women, Peace and Security.

Image credit: WILPF
WILPF International Secretariat
9 October 2018

The Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom is publishing a Gender Index of Statements made during the General Debate of the 73rd Session of the General Assembly. This Gender-Militarism Index examines the statements delivered during UNGA73 from a feminist perspective and supports policy-oriented advocacy and academic research around specific geographic and thematic areas, including Women, Peace and Security.

The WILPF April 2017 #ReclaimUN Convening in Geneva has demonstrated that in order to make the United Nations (UN) relevant for everyone, it has to reclaim its status as a peace organisation. At the core of the UN mandate is saving future generations from the scourge of war. It means that the UN should prioritise action on making the UN relevant to all people, through women’s meaningful participation, integrating the Women, Peace and Security Agenda across all Agendas, support disarmament efforts and restructure funding for peace efforts and not militarised efforts.

Purple and violet cover of "Gender-Militarism Index"

During the General Debate of the 73rd Session of the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA73), country representatives from 197 Member States and observer delegations similarly put forth their concerns, positions and priorities under the theme, “Making the United Nations Relevant to All People: Global Leadership and Shared Responsibilities for Peaceful, Equitable and Sustainable Societies”. The meeting was chaired by H.E. Ms. María Fernanda Espinosa Garcés, the 4th woman as well as the first Latin American woman to become an UNGA President.

In her opening statement, the President of the General Assembly invited the international community “to take inspiration in the age-old Andean principle of ‘minga’, which refers to a collective effort and shared work that is carried out for the benefit of the community, [and] create a ‘global minga’ to build societies that are more egalitarian, peaceful, sustainable and resilient”.

At the time, the conversation about women’s role in the “global minga” was limited to the conversations on the margins of the Debate. Inside the General Assembly Hall, only 34 speakers (17.2 percent) provided specific and policy-oriented statements aimed at ensuring that women’s rights and women’s participation at the core of the Global Agenda for Peace. Many references were generalised and vaguely asserted the importance of women’s empowerment, gender equality and viewing women as victims rather than specific actions necessary to ensure gender equality, women’s meaningful participation and respect for their rights.

Member States have to commit to political rather than technical change,” said Abigail Ruane, WILPF’s Women, Peace and Security Programme Director at the annual meeting of the WPS Focal Points Network. According to Ruane, this includes addressing structural discrimination and obstacles to women’s meaningful participation, rights and justice, supporting consistent gender conflict expertise and analysis, ensuring safety and justice for women human rights defenders who are the beating heart of the WPS Agenda and ensuring strong funding for WPS and gender equality.

WILPF’s Gender-Militarism Index is divided into several sections, including key highlights from the debate, gender and militarism analysis, review of the situation in WILPF’s focus countries, including  Colombia, Syria, Nigeria, Iraq, Palestine, Cameroon, Ukraine, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Libya and Bosnia and Herzegovina. It also features all government statements delivered during the UNGA73 General Debate in a form of Gender-Militarism Index with relevant extracts of statements.

The goal of the Gender-Militarism Index is to demand accountability for the implementation of the Women, Peace and Security Agenda and strengthen policy coherence across other frameworks, including disarmament and sustainable development. The report specifically 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: Gender-Militarism Index

Download Press Release as PDF: WILPF Releases Its Gender-Militarism Analysis of the UNGA73 General Debate

For more information please contact: Abigail Ruane, WILPF Women, Peace and Security Programme Director, tel:  / mobile: +1 1.212.682.1265 / email: abigail@peacewomen.org

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WILPF International Secretariat

WILPF International Secretariat, with offices in Geneva and New York, liaises with the International Board and the National Sections and Groups for the implementation of WILPF International Programme, resolutions and policies as adopted by the International Congress. Under the direction of the Secretary-General, the Secretariat also provides support in areas of advocacy, communications, and financial operations.

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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. 

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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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