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Ann Wright Interview: "Be Bold, Be Impatient and Never Give Up!"

6 November 2012

A few weeks ago, anti-war activist Ann Wright met with our WILPF Pakistan Section in Islamabad to discuss how the American drone strikes are really affecting Pakistan, and what can be done to prevent them. We jumped at the chance to interview the 65-year-old on her career in the US army, pushing for peace and what she really thinks of WILPF…

Photo of Ann WrightYou worked for the US government for a long time, so your eventual resignation from the Foreign Service was certainly a bold move. Was it a hard decision to resign and have you ever reconsidered it?

There were only three employees of the U.S. federal government who resigned in opposition to the Iraq war.  I had been in U.S. government service, either in the US Army (29 years) or in the US Foreign Service (16 years), all my adult life, through some very controversial policies of the eight Presidential administrations under which I worked.

But, as a career government employee, you implement the policies of the persons elected by the people of the United States to lead our government.  While we have had some government employees resign over specific policies, in general, resignation is not one of the hallmarks of dissent within the government so there was no real support system for those of us who resigned.

It was a hard decision to leave the known (a lifetime of work in the US government) and join the unknown (life outside the government).  But, I knew I would be very conflicted about staying in the government during the war I did not support.

I have no regrets about resigning as I have been welcomed by the huge number of citizens who were demonstrating against the war and challenging the Bush administration on so many policies—the wars, extraordinary rendition, kidnapping, illegal imprisonment, indefinite detention, torture, illegal spying on American citizens, etc.

What, for you, are the most pressing issues for the antiwar movement to focus on today?

In my opinion, the most pressing issues of the antiwar movement are removing US military from Afghanistan, stopping drone attacks in Pakistan, Yemen and Somalia, learning more about the US military programs in African under the new command AFRICOM and challenging the increasing militarization of American law enforcement and American society in general.

When did you first hear about WILPF and how?

I have known about WILFP for many years, but certainly after I resigned from the US government almost 10 years ago, I began meeting WILPF members at many national meetings and working with WILPF chapters on antiwar issues.

We were happy to hear you visited WILPF Pakistan as part of your visit to protest the American drone attacks. Can you tell us a bit more about what you did with WILPF Pakistan during your time in the country?

Photo of Ann Wright meeting WILPF Pakistan

Our delegation of 32 persons was pleased to meet with members of the Pakistan WILPF chapter during our stay in Islamabad.  WILPF Pakistan hosted a luncheon and meeting for one part of our group and a dinner and meeting for another part of our group.

Many viewpoints on drones were expressed by WILPF members that helped our group understand better the issues concerning violence in the FATA region, the number of Pakistanis that have been killed by the violence and the challenge of the Pakistani government in addressing the violence.hapter during our stay in Islamabad.  WILPF Pakistan hosted a luncheon and meeting for one part of our group and a dinner and meeting for another part of our group.

Were you involved in the recent anti-drone protest march? What impact do you think it will have in the prevention of the attacks?

Because the dates of our trip to Pakistan had changed several times, I was unable to stay to participate on the march. However, I talked to many of our delegates after they returned and I read accounts of the “march” in the Pakistani media.  The march was covered by international press and even made it into the American press.

I think the march increased the debate within Pakistani society on the dangers of the drone attacks to Pakistani national security.  And the march certainly kept the discussion in the United States alive on whether this weapons system increases US national security or is a threat to it.

What, in your opinion, is the most effective tool in campaigning against conflict?

I don’t know that there is any one tool that is the MOST effective, but many tools used together hopefully will influence many people to recognize that conflict and wars are not the way to resolve issues.  Exposing the human costs of war as well as the financial costs that take away from the needs of the community seem to be the most effective. When others finally comprehend how much the wars really cost and what we give up in terms of health, education and quality of life when we spend funds on wars, it finally wakes some people up.

What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever been given by a fellow peace activist?

Be Bold, Be Impatient and Never Give Up challenging one’s government’s policies that are killing other people!


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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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