Celebrating Feminists’ Voices, Inspiring Global Peace

The 32nd Session of the Human Rights Council Has Started

14 June 2016
Photo credit: UN Photo/Jean-Marc Ferre.

Monday 13 June marked the beginning of the 32nd session of the Human Rights Council. The session is an opportunity for WILPF to bring its advocacy and address the root causes of war. It is also a chance to bridge the gap between the international and local levels, by providing information about human rights and human rights violations on the ground. Women’s human rights are on the agenda for this session, and WILPF will make sure that they are brought up.

Our focus during the Human Rights Council sessions is to integrate disarmament and the women, peace and security agenda within the work of the Human Rights Council. In doing so, we will remind countries of their human rights obligations, whether they are directly implicated in an armed conflict, or indirectly contributing to it. Arms exports or the endorsement of peace negotiation processes that do not include women are some examples of how actions of States may affect the human rights of those enduring armed conflicts elsewhere.

What we do

For the 32nd session, WILPF will organise two side events and deliver several oral and written statements.

15 June 2016: Syria, from a peaceful revolution to a bloody conflict: Women’s experiences and roles

WILPF and Syrian women activists from ten different partner organisations, and with the support of Kvinna till Kvinna, have developed a report for the Universal Periodic Review of Syria that allocates specific focus on the distinct impact of the conflict on Syrian women and the violations committed against them.

23 June 2016: Human Rights and civilian access to fire arms: Struggling against insecurity and gender-based violence

This side event will present the main findings of the OHCHR report aiming at identify the impact of the use, acquisition and possession of firearms by civilians on the enjoyment of human rights. The event will also highlight the impacts of firearms from a gender perspective.

Advocacy work

WILPF uses statements at the Council to influence the decision-taking processes at the Council, but we also provide expertise. Statements are based on hard facts that are sometimes unknown or not taken into consideration for political interests, such as women’s rights or arms exports. Raising such issues at the Human Rights Council guarantees that they can no longer be ignored.

WILPF will advocate against arms transfer, violence against women and transnational corporations. WILPF will help bring voices from our members from Eritrea, today part of different sections of WILPF around Europe, to the Human Rights Council. They want to call for a stop of the proliferation of weapons, kidnapping and human trafficking that the people of Eritrea are suffering from. WILPF will also comment on the reports by the Commission of Inquiry on Syria.

For more information, have a look at our calendar! We will publish our statements in our advocacy document archive.

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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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