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Upcoming Seminar on ‘Preventing Gender-Based Violence through the Arms Trade Treaty’

5 March 2013

Each year, WILPF holds a seminar in Geneva to mark the occasion of the International Women’s Day. This annual seminar tries to combine the two focus areas of the WILPF secretariat, i.e. women’s rights and disarmament, in order to raise awareness of important issues that the world faces today.

ATT seminarThis year, WILPF is holding a Seminar on ‘Preventing Gender-Based Violence through the Arms Trade Treaty’ on 11 March 2013 from 13:00 to 15:00 at the Palais des Nations in Geneva.

This year’s seminar aims to bring together different actors working with the Arms Trade Treaty (ATT), such as diplomats, NGOs and academics, in order to raise awareness about gender-based violence (GBV) and the unregulated international arms flow and to highlight the necessity to include such a reference in the upcoming negotiation on the ATT on the 18-28 March.


Already in spring 2012, in preparation for the first round of UN negotiations of the ATT, WILPF, together with IANSA Women’s Network, Amnesty International and Religions for Peace, published a Joint Policy Paper on Gender and the Arms Trade Treaty. This paper was a united call to explicitly include gender-based violence in the Arms Trade Treaty (ATT) criteria.

A criterion in the Arms Trade Treaty should require states not to allow an international transfer of conventional arms where there is a substantial risk that the arms will be used to perpetrate or facilitate acts of gender-based violence, including rape and other forms of sexual violence.


It is clear that the arms trade has specific gender dimensions and direct links to discrimination and gender-based violence. The unregulated arms trade often facilitates violence against women, as both states and non-state actors fuel violence and conflict by the mere presence of weapons in societies.

During armed conflict, sexual violence is in many cases widely as well as systematically employed against civilians. At the same time women are in some states disproportionately affected by high levels of fire arms-related homicides and by domestic violence.

By including a criterion on gender-based violence in the ATT, arms transfer could be limited to perpetrators of such violence and at the same time women’s rights and gender equality could be strengthened. Furthermore, it could this way be acknowledged that both arms exporting as well as importing countries somehow have a joint, however different, responsibility to prevent crimes of gender-based violence.


WILPF encourages you to follow our blog in order to get an update on the seminar next week.

In addition, we have launched on 11 February a petition that encourages everyone to show that preventing gender-based violence is a priority, and that governments must do their utmost to ensure such a provision in the ATT.

We would like to strongly encourage you to join us in this work and sign our petition. We need you.

Written by Anina

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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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