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WILPF and MADRE Presents: A Conversation With Radhika Coomaraswamy

21 October 2015

Following the official launch of the Global Study on the implementation of UNSCR 1325, WILPF’s Women, Peace and Security programme, PeaceWomen, in collaboration with MADRE, and the Sorensen Center held a conversation with Radhika Coomaraswamy, independent lead author of the Global Study, moderated by Madeleine Rees, Secretary General of WILPF.

Radhika Coomaraswamy is speaking at the event, while Madeleine Rees, Yifat Susskind, and  Charlotte Bunch are listening. Photo:
Radhika Coomaraswamy is speaking at the event, while Madeleine Rees, Yifat Susskind, and Charlotte Bunch are listening. Photo: PeaceWomen

The panel discussion sought to both celebrate the successes of the Global Study, and progress made within the Women, Peace and Security (WPS) Agenda as well as to strategise on next steps within the Agenda that will mobilise commitments into action.

Commentators included Leymah Gbowee (Nobel Peace Laureate); Bandana Rana (Saathi); Pramilla Patten (CEDAW); Charlotte Bunch (CWGL); and Yifat Susskind (MADRE).

Panelists and attendees all praised the success of the Global Study in increasing discourse and raising awareness about WPS. However, many present expressed concern about the changing nature of the WPS agenda at the United Nations, primarily the increasing linkage between WPS and counter-terrorism as well as shrinking civil society space.

Those present agreed that there is a need to shift back to pushing for a transformative agenda that affects real change. For example, Nobel Peace Prize Laureate Leymah Gbowee addressed the issue of women’s participation in peace talks. There has been an increase in women present at the peace table over the past 15 years, but they are often mere observers rather than full participants. Governments need to be held accountable to ensure women’s full and effective participation.

Another takeaway from the discussion was that the WPS Agenda would fail unless results are seen at a country level. There are significantly more references to women in Security Council Resolutions than in 2000 when UNSCR 1325 was implemented, but this has not necessarily translated to increases in safety and economic empowerment on the ground.

The Women, Peace, and Security Agenda has had many successes over the past 15 years, however, the framing of the WPS agenda and the approach of those pushing for it will have to evolve in order to maintain this success. The launch of the Global Study was a historic opportunity for WPS and hopefully this momentum will carry WPS forward for another fifteen years.

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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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