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Reflections on COP24: Now Is a Time for Feminist Action across Continents

While the USA held a leading role in the formation of the Paris Agreement, it now stands in the way of accepting the leading scientific consensus on climate change in the stark refusal to accept the legitimacy of the October IPCC report, along with Russia and Saudi Arabia. As expected, the oil industry and nation-states are pushing back on climate action. We must remain undaunted.

Image credit: WILPF
Dawn Nelson
20 December 2018
What is the IPCC?
The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) is the United Nations body for assessing for science related to climate change. The IPCC was created to provide regular scientific assessment on climate change, its implications and potential future risks, as wellas to put forward adaptation and mitigation options. In addition to the assessment reports, the IPCC is organising various activities including working groups, workshops, lead author meetings among many others. 
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While the USA held a leading role in the formation of the Paris Agreement, it now stands in the way of accepting the leading scientific consensus on climate change in the stark refusal to accept the legitimacy of the October IPCC report, along with Russia and Saudi Arabia. As expected, the oil industry and nation-states are pushing back on climate action. We must remain undaunted.

Political will for transformative change is not an easy road. The Women’s Environment and Development Organization, convener of the Women and Gender Constituency in the Katowice talks, made it clear at COP24 that the rise of macho-fascism is a clear and present threat to the global community and completely unacceptable.

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Now is a time for courageous feminist action across continents.

We are witnessing many young people rise up in protest of the environmental pathway of destruction that we are on, from the Sunrise Movement to Climate Justice Now and many others. Change is imminent, but the challenge remains to implement financing mechanisms for climate smart solutions. As people return home to their countries, it becomes ever more important to engage in political decision making to urge governments forward in climate action for the common good. The false dichotomy of environment versus economy must come to an end—there will be no economy without climate action. Abrupt climate change has the capacity to disrupt the major built infrastructure systems as we know them; the devastation of hurricanes in Puerto Rico illustrates concretely what this means. It is not a choice of whether we act, but how swiftly.

Building grassroots alliances and partnerships is the groundwork that lays before us all. As I embrace my role as a convener for the WILPF Environment Working Group, I am eager to hear what people are working on in their countries and WILPF sections and groups so that we can better align environment and peace work with the global social movement for climate action. Peace is possible only if we take care of the environment, and sustain a climate that can sustain us all. May we move forward in 2019 with courage and purpose, and be part of the social change for climate action.

By Dawn Nelson

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Dawn Nelson

Dawn Nelson is part of WILPF Environment Working Group.

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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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