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Webinar: The WPS Agenda Under Occupation

Ahead of the 46th session of the Human Rights Council, the General Union of Palestinian Women, supported by WILPF, hosted a webinar entitled: “The WPS Agenda Under Occupation: Gendered Impacts of the Israeli Occupation on Women and Girls ”.

Three girls sitting in a field in Gaza Strip, raising Palestinian flag
Image credit: Pixabay
WILPF International Secretariat
18 March 2021

Ahead of the 46th session of the Human Rights Council (HRC46) — taking place between 22 February and 23 March 2021 — the General Union of Palestinian Women (GUPW), supported by WILPF, hosted a webinar entitled: “The WPS Agenda Under Occupation: Gendered Impacts of the Israeli Occupation on Women and Girls ”.

As noted by WILPF MENA Director and the event moderator Laila Alodaat, “The purpose of this event [was] to inform the HRC’s 46th session on the gendered impacts of the Israeli occupation in Palestine, and the Women, Peace and Security Agenda under occupation.”

Despite the overabundance of online meetings and events in the period ahead of and during the HRC, the live webinar held on 18 February 2021 attracted over 150 attendees.

In her opening remarks, UN Women’s Representative in Palestine Maryse Guimond called on member states to include the rights of women and girls in the State of Palestine at the centre of the agenda and the discussion.

The panelists included Intissar Al-Wazir, head of the GUPW and former minister at the Palestinian Authority; Nadera Shalhoub-Kevorkian, professor at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem; and Dr. Shaddad Attili, an adviser-ranking minister at the Palestinian Negotiations Affairs Department.

The speakers sought to amplify the work, voices and perspectives of Palestinian women and women-led organisations and the issues they face due to the Israeli occupation. 

The event kicked-off with a series of brief presentations by the speakers. Al-Wazir presented her most recent work on settlements expansion in the West Bank and the blockade in Gaza, and their impact on Palestinian women.

Kevorkian presented her paper entitled “Secrecy as Violence Against Women in Occupied Jerusalem,” which sheds light on gender-based violence in the context of militarisation, focusing on the situation of Palestinian women living in the occupied East Jerusalem.

Dr. Attili then addressed the Israeli occupation’s exploitation of Palestinian natural resources and the resulting gender impacts, referring to his most recent paper entitled, “Palestinian Women’s Lives Under An Occupied Environment”.

The presentations were followed by a Q&A session, which touched upon the situation of rural women in the Occupied Palestinian Territories; responses to the COVID-19 pandemic; the increasing annexation of Palestinian territories by Israeli authorities in the West Bank; and the possibility of the International Criminal Court (ICC) to prosecute Israel as a mechanism to hold it accountable for violations of international human rights and humanitarian laws.

In his closing remarks, Sir Michael Lynk, UN’s Special Rapporteur on the Situation of Human Rights in the Palestinian Territory Occupied Since 1967, saluted the bravery of Palestinian women and girls who have been the forefront of national resistance through history. 

“No society in the world can achieve meaningful economic, social and political progress if barriers … are allowed to hold the full potential of women,” Lynk stated. 

Second secretary to the Permanent Mission to the State of Palestine in Geneva, Doa Nofal, also made a special intervention at the closure of the discussion.

This webinar marks the first of three events that WILPF is supporting the GUPW with throughout 2021, including an Arria formula meeting on Palestine, and a side-event on the sidelines of the WPS annual debate in October.

If you missed our event, you can still watch it in Arabic on WILPF’s youtube channel; or you can read more of the event’s highlights on Twitter, using the hashtag #wps_in_palestine

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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.

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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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