Latest News

Spreading The Disarmed Word: From Cameroon To Colombia

28 July 2016

As the world’s oldest international feminist organisation, with an aim to ensure real and lasting peace and freedom by non-violent means, WILPF seeks to effectively support women’s grassroots organisations in multiple ways. WILPF’s unique local-global-local approach, which forges strong linkages between international, national and local efforts, makes our engagement not only innovative but also thoroughly tailored for each local context.

This article is part of a series of articles showcasing different aspects of how the local-global-local approach works in reality.


As part of the project on the implementation of the Arms Trade Treaty (ATT) and the UN Programme of Action on Small Arms and Light Weapons (UNPoA), coordinated by WILPF’s Disarmament Programme, Reaching Critical Will, Mia Gandenberger paid a visit to four WILPF Sections in Cameroon, Colombia, Spain, and Sweden, in the first half of 2016.

WILPF’s Disarmament Programme has teamed up with these four Sections to advocate for a better implementation of the ATT and the UNPoA, in particular with regard to the gender provisions in the ATT.

Joining together to make it work

The year began with a visit to WILPF Cameroon in Douala on 5-10 February (a report from the visit can be found here.) 

In early April, Mia went to visit the Swedish Section in Stockholm. Despite the longstanding cooperation with the Swedish Section on disarmament issues, this was actually the first time Mia visited the Swedish office and there was lots to catch up regarding the ATT project, but also on nuclear disarmament, killer robots, explosive weapons, and so on.

The Swedish Section had been invited to join the national commission on Disarmament and International Law and updated Mia on what that meant for their work and how it would fit with WILPF Sweden’s priorities.

In Stockholm, Mia also had the opportunity to meet with Joy Onyesoh from WILPF Nigeria, Annie Matundu Mbambi from WILPF DRC, and Sylvie Ndongmo from WILPF Cameroon, who luckily were all there also for a joint project with WILPF Sweden to participate in the Stockholm Forum on Security and Development.

The WILPF panel on ‘The proliferation of small arms and light weapons (SALW) in fragile contexts’ brought together the work of all four Sections and allowed Mia to facilitate the conversation with many interested participants (you can find the conclusions of the meeting here.)

Tour de Espagne

Next up, in late April, was a visit to WILPF Spain. It turned out to be a true tour de Espagne as unlike in the other sections the Spanish one does not have an office with fixed staff and is spread out over different cities.

Together with Maribel Hernández, the Project Coordinator, Mia met with the Sections’ civil society colleagues. They went to see the branches of Madrid and Zaragoza and explained to members there what WILPF’s Disarmament programme is working on to get a sense of what the Sections priorities are on disarmament. In Zaragoza they presented WILPF’s work around the ATT and how the arms trade works in Spain at a public event. Mia and Maribel also met with students of the Peace Master from Universitat Jaume I in Castellón during one of their weekly Intercultural Seminars where they talked about WILPF’s work on Women and the Arms Trade Treaty.

Colombian projectLatino vibes

The final visit was to WILPF Colombia (LIMPAL) at the end of May to join them for the launch of their report ‘Desarmando la vida’. This project is about how the implementation of UNSCR 1325 and disarmament need to get together in Colombia, in particular to achieve lasting peace after decades of internal conflict. After the big launch in Bogotá at the National Library, everyone shared a meal while the participants of the project in San Cristóbal received their certificates.

The second launch in Villavicencio took place at the UN Women offices, which allowed a lively debate among practitioners and activists working with women in Colombian communities.

What makes WILPF special

These visits demonstrates the manifold ways that WILPF engages trough around the world and how each Section has found their way to translate what is happening on the international level to what that means in their national and regional contexts, what works and what doesn’t.

While these four Sections will continue their work on the local level, the Project Coordinators will join the International Secretariat in highlighting the challenges our local Sections are facing on the ground at the upcoming ATT conference 22-26 August 2016 in Geneva.

The series of articles based on WILPF’s local-global-local approach will continue tomorrow. This time we are bringing out the story of Syrian women activists and why this approach is so important for our work in Syria.

Share the post

Your donation isn’t just a financial transaction; it’s a step toward a more compassionate and equitable world. With your support, we’re poised to achieve lasting change that echoes through generations. Thank you!

Thank you!

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

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit. Mauris facilisis luctus rhoncus. Praesent eget tellus sit amet enim consectetur condimentum et vel ante. Nulla facilisi. Suspendisse et nunc sem. Vivamus ullamcorper vestibulum neque, a interdum nisl accumsan ac. Cras ut condimentum turpis. Vestibulum ante ipsum primis in faucibus orci luctus et ultrices posuere cubilia curae; Curabitur efficitur gravida ipsum, quis ultricies erat iaculis pellentesque. Nulla congue iaculis feugiat. Suspendisse euismod congue ultricies. Sed blandit neque in libero ultricies aliquam. Donec euismod eget diam vitae vehicula. Fusce hendrerit purus leo. Aenean malesuada, ante eu aliquet mollis, diam erat suscipit eros, in.


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.

Skip to content