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WILPF Congress Opens by Welcoming Five New Sections

WILPF’s 32nd International Triennial Congress has opened today. The Congress is the highest decision-making body of WILPF, and this year it is taking place in Accra, Ghana, from 20-22 August 2018.

Image credit: WILPF
WILPF International Secretariat
20 August 2018

WILPF’s 32nd International Triennial Congress has opened today. The Congress is the highest decision-making body of WILPF, and this year it is taking place in Accra, Ghana, from 20-22 August 2018. It is the first Congress to be hosted in Africa, and it is gathering more than 200 participants under the theme ‘Building a Feminist Peace Movement’. WILPF’s programmes and policies evolve from the Congress, where different points of view and experiences within WILPF are heard and incorporated into a genuinely global plan of action.

WILPF welcomes five new sections

WILPF’s members either belong to National Sections or are international members. The first step to becoming a WILPF National Section is to be officially recognised as a WILPF National Group. New Sections and Groups are approved during the International Triennial Congress.

On the first day of its 32nd International Triennial Congress, WILPF admitted five new Sections, four of which are from the African continent, and nine new groups in WILPF’s peace-makers community.

“As women from a conflict affected country and severely affected by these conflicts, our interest to become an official WILPF National Group emerged from the necessity of working within a global platform for bringing visibility to issues affecting women in Sudan,” stated Ikhlas Babiker from WILPF Sudan Group, “WILPF is one of the most influential organisations for us to address the serious impacts of conflicts on women groups in the country and advocating for their right to participate in peace negotiations and peace building.”

Eleven National Groups have been approved since the previous International Triennial Congress in 2015. In 2018, WILPF is welcoming five of them as new National Sections:

WILPF New National Sections

WILPF Afghanistan

WILPF Afghanistan aims to participate in the creation of an Afghanistan free from war and violence. Among the values guiding the work of the Section is the belief that a genuine and sustainable peace can only be achieved with women’s participation within peace processes—a concept that is almost non-existent in Afghanistan. Indeed, while Afghan women have been severely and disproportionately affected by the long-lasting conflicts in their country, they have been kept away from peace-building processes. WILPF Afghanistan was formed with the aim of suppressing this injustice.

WILPF Chad

WILPF Chad works to increase the participation of its members through the work of the Section, and strengthen the in-country network on UN Security Council resolution (UNSCR) 1325. Some of their work to date has included organising trainings with women to create an advocacy strategy to deepen their engagement towards Chad’s adoption of a National Action Plan for the Implementation of UNSCR 1325.

WILPF Kenya

WILPF Kenya envisions a country free from violence and armed conflict, where human rights are protected, and women and men are equally empowered and involved in positions of leadership at the local and national levels. The Section sees WILPF’s approach to peace as an important tool that can be used in pursuit of long lasting peace in Kenya.

WILPF Zimbabwe

WILPF Zimbabwe strives to support women’s meaningful participation in building a sustainable culture of peace and democracy through the establishment of a solid footing in lobbying, advocacy, and campaign initiatives. The Section advocates against forced marriage, and campaigns to challenge gender stereotypes and to denounce domestic violence. WILPF Zimbabwe aims to represent women’s interests on a national level, while being active on the international level and influencing peace-building processes.

WILPF Uganda

WILPF Uganda aims to work with grassroots communities to suppress gendered violence and promote women’s participation in conflict resolution. The Section analyses the root causes of conflicts in order to better understand and address them. Since its foundation, WILPF Uganda has worked for a world without war by participating in national protests, organising workshops, and creating a space for women to discuss conflict resolution strategies that they can apply to their communities.

WILPF New National Groups since the previous Congress

WILPF Argentina Group

A Section of WILPF was originally started in Argentina at the beginning of the 1990s. However, the political context of the country forced many of its activists into exile in Spain and the Section was dissolved. WILPF Argentina Group re-emerged in 2018 when it rejoined WILPF with the same determination to challenge the patriarchal system that generates injustice and violence. WILPF Argentina Group focuses its energy on one of the biggest flaws of Argentinian society: domestic violence. While still organising its rebirth, WILPF Argentina Group has a long history of feminist activism and knows how to use WILPF’s structure to further advocate for women’s rights and promote peace on a local and global scale.

WILPF Burkina Faso Group

WILPF Burkina Faso Group joined in 2018 with the aim of working for effective social transformation by promoting the actions of women and men who adhere to WILPF’s mission and principles. Working around the priority areas of WILPF, the Group will focus its energy to encourage nonviolent innovative practices to end systems of exploitation.

WILPF Burundi Group

WILPF Burundi Group joined the WILPF family in May 2017. The group has emerged from the gathering of strong and motivated women united by the common aim of improving women’s situation in Burundi. Their objective is that of contributing to positive change towards peace and stability in the country.

WILPF Central African Republic (CAR) Group

WILPF CAR Group is the newest Group to join WILPF. Since its creation, it has carried out actions to make WILPF’s work known to national authorities and to the wider public. WILPF CAR Group has conducted advocacy campaigns, and organised trainings on the importance of women’s participation in the national effort to build sustainable peace.

WILPF Ivory Coast Group

WILPF Ivory Coast Group decided to join WILPF with the aim of gathering women’s efforts on a national level and work towards the establishment of lasting peace. The Group is working on challenging gender injustice by analysing the root causes of violence at the local level. Since its foundation, it has promoted peaceful conflict resolution through peace education and reconciliation.

WILPF Nicaragua Group

Established in 2015, WILPF Nicaragua Group has since worked on building more knowledge of women, peace and security issues within their community and bolstering women organising for peace.

WILPF Niger Group

One of the newest National Groups, WILPF Niger was founded in 2018 with the aim of promoting women’s rights and enabling women to play an active role in conflict resolution. Over the past few months, WILPF Niger Group has educated girls and women, raising awareness on their roles, their responsibilities, and the essential contributions they can bring to peace mediation and peacebuilding processes and negotiations.

WILPF Sierra Leone Group

As a new National Group, WILPF Sierra Leone Group is organising itself to become an important civil society actor in the region. The Group has already been involved in several actions aimed at engaging women in sustainable economic activities to alleviate poverty. It has also worked with policymakers to stress the importance of women’s rights, and offered training to women, providing them with tools to better advocate for their rights.

WILPF Sudan Group

WILPF Sudan Group officially joined WILPF in 2018. Since then, the Group has been working on implementing projects and activities on peace education and advocating for better female representation within peace and security issues in the region.

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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.

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Melissa Torres

VICE-PRESIDENT

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

VICE-PRESIDENT

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

PRESIDENT

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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Demilitarisation

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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