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Six Months after the Global Study: from a Politics of Fear to Solidarity and Justice

18 May 2016

“The political climate around the world right now would be almost absurdly comical if it were not terrifying,” writes Abigail Ruane, Director of WILPF’s Women, Peace and Security programme, in her editorial to the month’s E-News from PeaceWomen. Read the entire newsletter on PeaceWomen’s website. 


It’s hard to believe that it has been a year since WILPF mobilised 1,000 activists from 80 countries at our centennial peace summit around women’s power to stop war. It’s hard to believe it is also now half a year since the launch of the United Nations Security Council Resolution 1325 (UNSCR 1325) Global Study.Six months to a year on – where are we now, and how can we take action to move forward?

The political climate around the world right now would be almost absurdly comical if it were not terrifying. In the United States, the purportedly premier global superpower, the Republican party presidential nominee is now officially Donald Trump – who has openly supported torture, called immigrants “rapists,” and stated that women should be “punished” for having abortions. In the Philippines, the president-elect is Rodrigo Duterte, who has openly supported death squads and shoot-to-kill orders and in Europe, the refugee crisis is stoking anti-Muslim sentiment and the closing of borders.

Misogyny, xenophobia, and fascism are running rampant. Public affairs has started to feel like the world is a giant schoolyard with administrators who may have a zero-tolerance policy on bullying, but certainly are not taking any action to implement it. Meanwhile, bullies manipulate bystanders into stepping aside rather than standing in solidarity against violence.

The Lord of the Flies is not a world we can live in. And it is not the only way.

In Myanmar, activists are standing up to defend the indigenous Rohingya population despite sidelining of this issue by authorities. In Iraq, activists are supporting displaced and refugee populations, regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity, in solidarity for all. In Sweden, activists are facing down white supremacists and standing up for politics of inclusion and justice.

These actions – which may seem small in such global climate of fear – are key to stopping what peace activists have called “the iron lung of militarism” and creating alternatives to fear for peace and gender justice.

But non-violent action requires solidarity for impact. So, to move beyond a politics of fear, we must all find ways to act in solidarity to uphold the rights of those most marginalised in all ways we have at our disposal.

As we reflect on the three peace and security reviews at the UN conducted this year, including on UNSCR 1325 and the Women, Peace and Security agenda, solidarity requires taking action on gender issues as a perennially neglected priority. It means making and delivering on strong committments for gender equality and peace at next week’s World Humanitarian Summit. It means rejecting creeping militarism and demanding equal protection from forced conscription for men, women, and gender-queer people. It means addressing indigenous issues from a gender and disarmament perspective. And it means bringing an intersectional gender perspective that addresses a wide range of marginalised experiences in the WPS agenda more generally.

Six months on from the Global Study, the evidence base remains firm, but the rising politics of fear requires solidarity for change. Together, we can overcome.

How will you be an ally?

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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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