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Syrian Women Readying to “Speak Truth to Power” at a Historic Security Council Meeting

15 January 2014

Three Syrian women leaders have travelled from Damascus and Beirut to New York for a historic event this Friday. For the first time, Syrian women will brief the UN Security Council. They will face the 15 Council Members including Russia and United States to discuss the realities of conflict in Syria and critical elements to resolve the conflict and build sustainable peace. 

No Peace Without Women

“Syrian women are demanding and have a right to meaningfully participate in next week’s Geneva II peace negotiations and Syrian peace processes” states PeaceWomen Director, Maria Butler. The right to participate will be a core part of the delegation’s advocacy this week in New York.

WILPF’s Gender, Peace and Security Programme, PeaceWomen, has initiated and worked tirelessly to ensure this special meeting between the Syrian women and Security Council. This meeting represents our strong belief in inclusive peace and the presence of civil society at the highest level of decision-making.

It is Security Council resolution 1325 in action!

International Community’s Failure to Include Women

So far in the Syrian peace process, there has been a stunning democratic deficit and a failure to uphold commitments to women’s equal human rights including the Women, Peace and Security (WPS) agenda.

At the present, it is rumored that there are two women, one on both governmental and opposition side, scheduled to participate in next week’s planned Geneva II peace talks.

Beyond this, the majority of Syrian stakeholders – civil society (especially women who are working on the ground for peace) – are not guaranteed meaningful representation neither through a  third party representation nor having a consultative statues in the peace talks.

Brahimi needs to take action – now!
Picture of Brahimi
WILPF encourages Mr. Brahimi to include women from the Syrian civil society in the Syrian peace negotiations. Photo credits: Rowan Farrell.

Several leading Member States including  Netherlands, Norway, and especially the United Kingdom have shown support for both women at the table and a civil society forum.

Yet we still are waiting to see real change and commitment. The Special Envoy, Lakhdar Brahimi, must now take action and give women a space at the negotiations.

Stand with the Syrian women

WILPF supports Syrian women in courageously standing up in the face of opposition and persecution to demand what is right: the inclusion of women in the peace talks and transition processes.

The three Syrian women leaders will also be part of an open event as part of PeaceWomen’s Lecture Series this Thursday as well as other high level discussions during their visit to New York.

Stand with the Syrian women tomorrow, for women and for their right to be heard.

How to Contribute

If you would like to support these women and their right to speak, join the campaign Women Lead to Peace and sign the petition to include Syrian women at the table.

The campaign is led by a coalition of women’s organisations, including WILPF, which are working to ensure that Syrian women play a vital role at the Geneva II peace talks.

WILPF in close collaboration with other INGOs in consultation with Syrian women organisations has developed a 5-step plan with concrete mechanisms that need to be in place to ensure women’s rights, their inclusion and real participation in the peace process.

To read more about the semi-private UN side event Thursday, check out the event details on PeaceWomen’s website. As this event unfolds, we will keep you updated via articles on our website and announcements on social media, so stay tuned!

The side event is Thursday January 16th 2014 at the United Nations in New York. It will be held in North Lawn Building Room 4 from 13:15 to 14:30. The event is semi-private; a UN badge is required to attend the event. 


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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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