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Success for WILPF/LIMPAL Colombia

28 October 2013

This October session of the Committee for the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW) featured the review of Colombia. The Committee endorsed WILPF’s advocacy on the participation of women in the Colombian peace process and asked for a fast implementation of recommendations on the inclusion of women in the peace process and on the protection of women’s rights defenders. 

Colombia’s civil conflict

The internal Colombian conflict between Government forces and guerillas has been ongoing since it started in the mid-60’s. Peace talks were launched in November 2012 to end the country’s civil conflict. Even though United Nations Security Council Resolutions  (UNSCR) on women, peace and security require the participation of women in conflict resolution, Colombia has not yet included women in the first line of the negotiations. At the session, WILPF demanded that Colombia rectify the situation. The CEDAW responded by taking a strong stance for the participation of women in conflict resolution.

From Colombia to Geneva
Members of Limpal Colombia. Rosmery (pink shirt), a lideresa in San Jacinto, came to Geneva to attend the CEDAW session.
Members of Limpal Colombia. Rosmery (pink shirt), a lideresa in San Jacinto, came to Geneva to attend the CEDAW session.

Rosmery Moreno Reyes, a local lideresa (leader) of WILPF in San Jacinto (Colombia), joined the Human Rights team in Geneva to bring the recommendations from WILPF Colombia directly to the Committee. WILPF’s section in Colombia, WILPF/LIMPAL Colombia, contributed to a joint shadow report that addresses several issues linked to women’s rights in Colombia. We also presented our recommendations in an advocacy paper delivered to CEDAW members. We advocated for the inclusion of strong recommendations that require women participate in the prevention and the resolution of conflicts.

In our paper, we focused on the fulfillment of the Women, Peace and Security agenda. We called for the elaboration and the implementation of a National Action Plan on the United Nations Security Council Resolution (UNSCR) 1325 and for the inclusion of women on the first line of peace negotiations. We stressed the necessity to adopt measures aimed at providing adequate support to women after the conflict, especially displaced victims of the armed conflict and victims of sexual violence. We also emphasized the lack of effective protection provided for human rights defenders of the right to land.

The Committee holds Colombia accountable

During the interactive dialogue, members of the Committee directly addressed the issue of the lack of participation of women in the peace process. The Colombian delegation remained evasive in its answer, claiming that women have not been included in the first line of negotiations because the President of Colombia heads the meetings and is in charge of appointing negotiators. It was added that the issue is on the agenda.

In its concluding observations on Colombia, the CEDAW addressed women’s participation in political and public life and fully endorsed our recommendations.

In order to eradicate the exclusivity of the peace process, the Committee recommends that Colombia ensure both the full implementation of UNSCR 1325 through a National Action Plan and the effective and meaningful participation of women in the first line of negotiations.

The Committee also made a recommendation calling for the establishment of a protection programme for women human rights defenders and local leaders.

Recommendations on the inclusion of women in the peace process recognized as essential

Not only were WILPF’s recommendations endorsed by the Committee, but they were also included in the follow-up process: Colombia is requested to provide written information, within two years, on the steps undertaken to implement the recommendations on the implementation of UNSCR 1325 and the protection of women human rights defenders.

Whilst this is great news for many women in Colombia, we regret that the powerful message provided by LGBT representatives during the review did not make a greater impact in the Committee’s Concluding Observations.

What to do now?

You can read the concluding observations of the Committee on Colombia.

WILPF’s Human Rights programme in Geneva and WILPF Colombia will monitor the implementation of the recommendations in Colombia and provide updated information to CEDAW Committee. However, the concluding observations alone will be an essential advocacy tool to defend and protect women’s human rights in Colombia and in particular to implement the Women, Peace and Security Agenda. Therefore, it is essential to always refer back to these recommendations when other human rights bodies review Colombia.

We will keep you updated on further outcomes of this process; so stay in touch and don’t forget to follow us on Facebook and Twitter, or even better, subscribe to our newsletter to get the latest news directly in your inbox.


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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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