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Sustainable Development Needs Feminist Peace and Development Justice

The Sustainable Development Goals have the potential to make a difference in the lives of women and girls in conflict-affected areas. That is why alongside our coalition, the Women’s Major Group, WILPF advocated for them to be implemented in effective, feminist ways.

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WILPF International Secretariat
13 August 2019

The 2019 High-Level Political Forum (HLPF) on Sustainable Development took place from 9 July to 18 July 2019. 

The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) have the potential to make a difference in the lives of women and girls in conflict-affected areas. That is why alongside our coalition, the Women’s Major Group, WILPF advocated for them to be implemented in effective, feminist ways. 

We attended this year’s Forum with WILPF peacebuilders from Cameroon, Norway, the UK and the US. Together, we advocated for feminist peace and development justice, and monitored progress done by countries on the 2030 Agenda, with a focus on disarmament, policy coherence, gender equality, and conflict prevention. 

The Forum was also an opportunity for WILPF to bridge the gap between what happens at the international level and on the ground, through strong feminist movement-building across peace and development spaces. As part of this, we supported a meeting of the Group of Friends of 1325 on strengthening synergies between the Women, Peace and Security Agenda and the SDGs. We also hosted a workshop to explore the links between militarism, gender, and the environment. 

Furthermore, we joined the advocacy campaign of our coalition, the Women’s Major Group, by wearing different coloured scarves every day to raise awareness about our Feminist Demands on a range of topics

Feminists know that the SDGs require bold action, not failed approaches. Despite the world being seriously off-track to achieving the SDGs, too many governments use the HLPF as an opportunity to defend their business-as-usual. 

Opportunities for civil society input and participation at the HLPF were extremely limited. However, Women’s Major Group members, including Sylvie Ndongmo, President of WILPF Cameroon and WILPF Africa Regional Representative, delivered a powerful intervention to the HLPF plenary session, pointing out the necessity of gender equality and peace in development. She urged the UN Member States to recognize that “Financing for development requires changing the rules of the game for development justice and feminist peace. It requires creating an enabling environment for women’s political participation, protection, and rights, including sexual and reproductive health and rights.”

WILPF demands for governments on SDG 16 on Peace, Justice and Strong Institutions:

  • Accelerate commitments on UNSCR1325, including national and regional action plans, as a key priority for SDG 16.
  • Ensure extraterritorial accountability and address spillover effects, including on flows of small arms and light weapons (SDG 16.2) to strengthen prevention of SGBV and all violence (SDG 5.4, SDG 16.1) in line with the Arms Trade Treaty.
  • Stop the militarisation of development aid (i.e., militarisation of OECD-DAC ODA rules).
  • Use post-conflict reconstruction and recovery processes to address inequalities, including gender inequality.
  • Perform gender, peace, and environmental impact assessments of all policies and programmes, to ensure equity and the protection of human rights.
Cover of WILPF Feminist Analysis of the 2019 High-Level Political Forum on Sustainable Development

Read our full analysis of what happened at this year’s High Level Political Forum, and why SDGs need peace, gender equality and women’s meaningful participation.

What comes next?

A second ministerial segment of the High Level Political Forum (HLPF) is scheduled for September 24-25 July 2019 during the annual General Assembly General Debate.  

WILPF has spearheaded a letter urging member states to commit to accelerating actions on the SDGs that also advance the WPS agenda by the September summit. Read the full letter, signed by over 82 NGOs and coalitions from around the world, and call on your government to take action.

If you are interested in learning more about our work on the Sustainable Development Goals, go to the peacewomen website.

To understand why we believe the SDGs have such potential, read our blog The Sustainable Development Goals: A Tool to Make a Difference for Women in Conflict.

To find out about WILPF Aotearoa’s work with the Māori on the realisation of their rights and in remedying the effects of the violence of colonisation as part of building a peaceful, just, and inclusive society (SDG 16), read our blog He Waka Eke Noa: we are all in this together.

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WILPF International Secretariat

WILPF International Secretariat, with offices in Geneva and New York, liaises with the International Board and the National Sections and Groups for the implementation of WILPF International Programme, resolutions and policies as adopted by the International Congress. Under the direction of the Secretary-General, the Secretariat also provides support in areas of advocacy, communications, and financial operations.

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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