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WILPF Conference Participants Show that We Get What We Pay For at Public Manifestation in The Hague

28 April 2015

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A peace conference is not a peace conference without a public manifestation, letting the rest of the world hear our voices and see us united.

And so, exactly halfway through the WILPF 2015 Conference: Women’s Power to Stop War, participants gathered outside the World Forum in The Hague, the Netherlands, to speak out against excessive military spending.

Uniting the Women’s Power to Stop War movement starting in The Hague

A girl dancing to Penny Stone’s uplifting music.public manifestation 3

Intermittent cheers of “Sí se puede! Sí se puede! Sí se puede!”

Friends, old and new, holding hands in a circle that grew and grew and grew.

All this and more could be seen at today’s public manifestation outside the World Forum in The Hague, the Netherlands, where we decided to demonstrate that we get what we pay for!

Why we moved the money

Reaching Critical Will Programme Director, Ray Acheson, introduced the idea behind the demonstration.

Conference participants moved a big pile of symbolic money that is spent on the military and the maintenance of violence to spending on health, education and the promotion of human rights.

This is to show world leaders that we get what we pay for, whether that is more militarisation or more social spending.

WILPF’s disarmament programme, Reaching Critical Will, highlights the impacts of social versus military spending in their You Get What You Pay For publication and advocacy efforts.

How we moved the money

public manifestation 2We used everything we could, from our hands to shovels and especially teamwork!

“It’s an effective way to show that it is possible to move the money. We now have an empty military table and very big piles of money for education, healthcare and human rights left over,” said participant Lina Hjartstrom.

“We want to have peace and development, and this is how to do it,” said participant Anna-Therese McGivern.

“It’s hard to choose which aspect of social spending to move the money to because they are so interlinked. I went for education because I believe this is the root to stimulating healthcare and human rights.  

Penny Stone on peace, music, and reducing burnout

Nonviolent peace activist and singer Penny Stone inspired the crowd with her music, which she has shared across the world to help other activists recharge and avoid burnout.public manifestation 1

We had the chance to speak with her before the crowds came, and she shared her stories of protesting nuclear weapons in Scotland, her home country.

She told us of several successful blockades and rallies which have taken place in the last few years, of the growth in political engagement among people, and of the importance of taking the money out of the war machine.

Watch the video and call on your government to reallocate military spending now!

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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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