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Remembering Katia Patiño, WILPF Leader and Mentor

30 January 2016

WILPF members around the world mourn the loss of Katia (Katy) Elena Patiño Uriona, President of WILPF (LIMPAL) Bolivia, and celebrate her life and accomplishments. Katy died of sudden heart failure on 23 December 2015 at 46 years of age.

Profile photo of Katy
Katia (Katy) Elena Patiño Uriona joined WILPF as a young lawyer, more than twenty years ago. Under her presidency, LIMPAL Bolivia became a strong advocate against domestic violence and militarism.

Katia (Katy) Patiño, a member of the Santa Cruz, Bolivia, Bar Association and a champion for peace and social justice, joined the Bolivian Section of WILPF as a young lawyer, more than twenty years ago. During these years the Bolivian section created a second office in La Paz, in addition to the main one in Santa Cruz de la Sierra. Under her presidency LIMPAL Bolivia became a strong advocate against domestic violence and militarism, undertaking numerous activities on behalf of victims and establishing programmes in Viacha (La Paz) and Cabezas (Santa Cruz). These programmes also included campaigns against the proliferation of small arms.

A group photo
Katia (Katy) Elena Patiño Uriona surrounded by WILPF friends at Congress in Bolivia 2007.

As a young, and enthusiastic member, she helped organise WILPF’s 29th International Triennial Congress in Santa Cruz in 2007, involving many indigenous women groups in the preparation, organisation and programme of the Congress. She was a strong leader who pursued alliances and networks with others, creatively finding ways to strengthen our organisation in Bolivia and in the world. She donated generously of her expertise to young WILPFers and emerging leaders and sections around the world, all of which expressed their gratitude, together with their sense of profound loss, for Katy’s mentorship and friendship.

WILPF entire feels deeply the loss of an honorable woman, wonderful friend, fighter for the human rights of the most marginalised among people and a proud representative of our organisation. Her two children, her partner, her mother, sister and brothers can rest assured that Katy’s legacy will leave on in all WILPFers that have met her.

Below are some personal remembrances from WILPF sisters around the world:

Adilia Caravaca (former WILPF International President): Personally, but I am sure that this sentiment is shared by most in WILPF who knew Katy, it is with a heavy heart that I feel the physical loss of our colleague. Her example, the sweetness of her expression and behavior coupled with strength of character, will be remembered as inspiration for us all together with her social engagement and her commitment to peace, disarmament, human rights, and equality.

Melissa Torres (WILPF, US Representative to International Board): Violeta (WILPF, Mexico) and I met Katy at the Americas meeting in Colombia … she kept up with us throughout these last two years … She shared her in-depth knowledge of WILPF’s history in the Americas with us and mentored us, always encouraging us to start a trans-border partnership and advising our desires for our work on the U.S.-Mexico border and giving wise advice on internal conflicts. She advised me on my role as IB Rep and was always available to the younger WILPFers in the Americas … Katy was a true mentor and leader of WILPF. She was also my friend. I keep looking at her last message to me. I’m deeply saddened by her loss. 

Edith Ballantyne (former WILPF International Secretary and International President): Katy Patiño … has been the backbone of the [Bolivian] section for all these years… It is hard to accept the disappearance of a person so young and full of vitality…We have lost a number of good and devoted members lately, having been part of a particular generation that has lived through tremendous and rapid social and political changes with hopes for a better and more peaceful future for our world… I am thinking of women I have worked with such as Kay Camp, Carol Pendell, Olga Bianchi, to mention just three…. They are part of WILPF’s global history. We should note them. Katy is one of them.

Photo of a smiling Katy
“Our gatherings won’t be the same without Katy’s beaming smile, her graciousness and the energy and passion for peace & justice which underpinned all she did,” Lyn Lane, WILPF Australian

Hanan Awwad (President, Palestinian Section): It is with great sorrow that we received the news of the loss of our friend Katy. On behalf of WILPF Palestine I extend my condolence to her family, to the ExCom and all WILPF members. It is sad to lose a woman of merit like Katia ,we keep for her all the beautiful memory.

Helena Nyberg (International Board member, Swiss Section): With deep sorrow the Swiss Section has acknowledged the loss of a wonderful person and strong WILPF-member. We will always remember Katy as the wonderful organiser and host of our WILPF Congress in Bolivia and all the efforts to include and meet with indigenous women of Bolivia. Please convey our sincere condolences to Katy’s husband, family and friends.

WILPF, Norway: It was sad to hear that Katia has passed away so suddenly. WILPF sisters in the Norwegian section have met her on several occasions during the years and will miss her contributions to the work done by WILPF. She was always such a positive person with a big smile an inexhaustible capacity for work. WILPF Norway send our condolences to her family and friends as well as to the Bolivian section of WILPF.

WILPF, Albania: The sudden loss of the expensively dear Katy Patiño has been a big shock for us. Representatives of WILPF Albania have known her during years on the struggle for Peace. Through WILPF spaces, as a wonderful leader of WILPF Bolivia, she has represented the best efforts of her Section for the WILPF cause. We never forget the smilingly Katy, as well organiser and “hostess” during our WILPF Congress in Bolivia. We will remember always the friendly communication and her smile also during the common participation in the Centennial Congress in Hague, 2015. WILPF Albania sends warm condolences and loving thoughts to Katy’s family and to Bolivian Section.

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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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