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WILPF Nigeria President Joy Onyesoh Calls for #SustainingPeace to Start with Local Women’s Voices

WILPF has been calling for an Integrated Approach to security that puts women’s human security over military state security for over 100 years. And last week, the President of the General Assembly (PGA) held a High-Level Meeting on Peacebuilding and Sustaining Peace to move toward a more integrated approach.

Image credit: WILPF
WILPF International Secretariat
30 April 2018

WILPF has been calling for an Integrated Approach to security that puts women’s human security over military state security for over 100 years. And last week, the President of the General Assembly (PGA) held a High-Level Meeting on Peacebuilding and Sustaining Peace to move toward a more integrated approach.

Building on the April 2016 Sustaining Peace resolutions by the Security Council (S/RES/2282) and General Assembly (A/RES/70/262), this forum aimed to assess efforts undertaken and opportunities to strengthen the United Nations’ work on peacebuilding and sustaining peace, and continue a UN shift from crisis response toward conflict prevention.

WILPF successfully leveraged this space to push for action that amplifies local women’s root cause analysis for peace: WILPF International Vice President and WILPF Nigeria President Joy Onyesoh represented WILPF at the highest levels across the week in various parts of the forum, and WILPF advocacy recommendations were taken up in discussions across the week.


The High-Level Meeting on Peacebuilding and Sustaining Peace brought together representatives of Member States, observers, UN entities, civil society organisations, research institutions with global and regional reach, media and other stakeholders to discuss how to advance sustaining peace through engaging women and youth, fostering conflict prevention, strengthening policy coherence and partnerships, including with civil society, as well as ensuring predictable and sustained financing of peace work.

Onyesoh held a prominent role in the week’s discussions.

As civil society speaker at the opening segment with the UN Secretary-General and President of the General Assembly, Onyesoh called for a “multi-pronged and integrated approach that puts local women’s voices and rights at the center. She drew particular attention to the need for ongoing support for women civil society, effective gendered conflict analysis, addressing violent masculinities and disarmament, and financing that substantially scales up funding for gender equality. “Sustaining peace requires consistent and committed political will to move out of the comfort zone and challenge dominant narratives on gender, conflict analysis and power,” she said.

WILPF International Vice President and WILPF Nigeria President Joy Onyesoh speaking
WILPF International Vice President and WILPF Nigeria President Joy Onyesoh provides civil society statement to the Opening Session of the PGA’s High-Level Meeting on Peacebuilding and Sustaining Peace
(Photo Credit: UN Photo/Evan Schneider)

At a high-level dialogue on national experiences around gender and sustaining peace, co-sponsored by Bangladesh, Canada, Colombia, Germany and Switzerland, Ms. Onyesoh shared how women in Nigeria contribute to sustaining peace through Women’s Situation Room-Nigeria, and highlighted how overcoming barriers to gender equality, including by curbing arms, is key to conflict prevention.

WILPF’s advocacy recommendations were also consistently taken up in discussions across the week.

During the High-Level Segment and Plenary Debate, there was a consistent acknowledgment by speakers of the need to ensure the meaningful participation of women and girls as a method of building peaceful and sustainable societies, whether through education or access to economic, political and other resources and services. For example, the representative of Kenya in this regard highlighted an increased focus on women’s participation and empowerment in the National SDG Plan of Action. The representative of Finland also shed light on the link between arms proliferation and women’s participation and presented Finland’s UNSCR1325 National Action Plan as a good practice of incorporating a gender perspective into arms-control, disarmament and non-proliferation.

Speakers also acknowledged that gender analysis should be incorporated in all aspects of peace and security efforts. As the representative of Sweden pointed out, effective gendered conflict analysis is a political action aimed at changing structural power between governments for gender equality and women’s human rights. Such analysis enables the meaningful participation and rights of at-risk and marginalised communities; enables measures to reverse structural discrimination; or builds democratic engagement for human rights and sustainable peace.

Explicitly or implicitly, many speakers discussed the need to ensure an integrated approach to peace and security, by mobilising different stakeholders and resources to achieve a common goal. Reconsidering the way resources are spent and practices are carried out can significantly mobilise action for change. For example, using an African Union (AU) regional model to build peace was noted as a good practice, as the AU can deploy rapidly in the region, while it would take much longer for the UN Security Council to do so. Also, as Switzerland noted, the Human Rights Council should play a greater role in conflict prevention. Speakers also welcomed building ongoing relationships with civil society.

In comparison to the last year’s conversation on sustaining peace, the need to properly finance efforts to sustain peace was frequently noted during the discussion. This included support for ensuring that 50% of peacebuilding activities go to support gender equality, strengthening funding for civil society, and guaranteeing an allocated budget to implement relevant initiatives. Additionally, participants recognised that focusing on paying for prevention measures is far more affordable than paying for post-conflict rebuilding. For example, the representative of Liberia suggested that rather than investing in bullets and tanks, the world should invest in infrastructure, education and other services, so everyone can benefit from peace.

Women sitting at a conference; among them, Joy Onyesoh, who is holding a microphone
WILPF International Vice President and WILPF Nigeria President Joy Onyesoh contributes as civil society speaker at the High-Level Breakfast on Gender Equality as a Key to the Sustainability of Peace hosted by Bangladesh, Canada, Colombia, Germany and Switzerland (Photo Credit: WILPF)

Moving Forward

The two-day forum clearly affirmed a normative shift across UN work and supported by Member State action to shift from crisis response to conflict prevention through action to Sustain Peace. In addition, the adoption of a procedural resolution following up on the UN Secretary-General’s Report on Peacebuilding and Sustaining Peace provided a framework for follow up and accountability to continue attention and action on this issue.

Now, it is important not to lose the momentum.

As part of WILPF’s over 100 years of action for an integrated approach to peace and security, we call for this shift to reorient work around amplifying local women’s root cause analysis for peace. This requires:

  1. Gendered Conflict Analysis: Ensuring consistent conflict analysis across the UN system that takes a gender perspective by amplifying local women’s root cause analysis for peace;
  2. Women Civil Society Partnerships: Prioritising partnerships with women civil society as key stakeholders by taking measures to ensure their meaningful participation through full and equitable access, information, follow up, and justice;
  3. Women, Peace and Security Financing: Significantly scaled up funding for holistic Women, Peace and Security (WPS) implementation and core, ongoing support for women civil society.

Sustaining Peace must make a difference for women. Join WILPF in demanding a power shift and action for feminist peace!

Read WILPF Highlights from the High-Level Meeting on Peacebuilding and Sustaining Peace in our report

Hungry for more?

Read WILPF’s summary of the November UNSCR 1325 Friends meeting on Synergies between WPS and Sustaining peace
Read WILPF’s summary of the January 2017 PGA Dialogue on Sustaining Peace

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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


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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