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WILPF Recaps As CSW59/Beijing+20 Concludes

25 March 2015

The 59th session of the Commission on the Status of Women (CSW) concluded on Friday 20 March and it has been an exciting two weeks in New York!

The WILPF delegation hailed from around the world including from Australia, Denmark, Japan, Norway, Palestine, Syria. Together, we brought attention to critical gaps 20 years after the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action on issues of women and armed conflict. Together, we demanded that actions move from commitments to accomplishments.

WILPF Events Demand Accountability 20 Years After Beijing

WILPF’s events powerfully brought attention to the need to address the root causes of violence and war and integrate issues of disarmament, women’s human rights, and Women, Peace and Security (WPS).

Women Confronting Isis
Symposium on women confronting Isis

At WILPF’s 6 March Women Confronting ISIS  all day symposium, women peace leaders from Iraq, Syria, and other countries around the world mapped the relationship between gender based abuses under ISIS/DAESH and state-sanctioned discrimination and violence against women in Iraq and Syria. “Women must never be used as a military strategy” said global author of the UNSCR 1325 Global Review Radhika Coomaraswamy. Syrian human rights lawyer and WILPF MENA Project Associate Laila Alodaat further commented that “local women and activists on the ground are key to fighting ISIS.”


Above the Parapet - Women in Public Life
We organised an interesting panel discussion on women in public life.

WILPF’s 9 March event on women in public life showcased the many challenges that women in public life face, particularly those who work on gender, human rights and women, peace and security. “Women do not start wars, but our bodies are the battlefields, yet we are not consulted on peace and rebuilding our countries,” said Special Representative for the Secretary General on Sexual Violence Zainab Hawa Bangura.



1 High Level Review Consultation
The High Level Review Consultation was an opportunity for the recommendations of several activists and civil society organisations to be heard.

At WILPF’s 11 March civil society consultation on the 2015 Women, Peace and Security High Level Review, panelists shared opportunities for civil society engagement and participants provided recommendations on the review. “The conversation has not changed for the past 20 years, not just here but everywhere,” said UN Women Policy Adviser and Officer in Charge Nahla Valji. Participants explored how to overcome existing obstacles through creative efforts to transform the status quo.

At WILPF’s 12 March event on the situation of women and girls in post-conflict and post-transition states, panelists discussed the interrelationship between institutional mechanisms, human rights and armed conflict. According to Ambassador Anwarul Chowdhury, “In any country where women’s rights are denied, there is conflict.” Sarah Boyd of WILPF Australia brought attention to the failure to address root causes:  “The WPS agenda is meant to transform institutions and prevent conflict, but this still has not been conceptualised.”

CSW Political Declaration: Failed Ambition or a Step Backward?

On 4 March 2015, the Commission on the Status of Women adopted a Political declaration on the occasion of the twentieth anniversary of the Fourth World Conference on Women. Unfortunately, feminists agree that the declaration failed to meet Beijing’s ambition and actually risks being a step backwards for women’s human rights. It also is almost completely blind to peace and conflict.

WILPF joined over 900 women’s activists from around the world in demanding that efforts be ramped up “to achieve the goals of fully realising gender equality, the human rights and empowerment of all women and girls everywhere.”

With the Post2015 Women’s Coalition, we launched a vision statement outlining a proposal for feminist sustainable development that fills the gap of the weak and inadequate CSW political declaration.

Join us in demanding feminist sustainable development and peace rather than business as usual! Demand your government to raise the bar for peace, gender justice, and women’s human rights.

WILPF Action

Throughout CSW, WILPF continued to mobilise with partners to push for a feminist approach to gender justice, security and development that addresses the root causes of violence and promotes sustainable peace. Our Secretary General Madeleine Rees urged activists to demand transformation of patriarchal structures of power for gender equality through reigniting a new global movement for change. She called for peace leaders to “rethink, strategise, organise and make a difference.”

At WILPF’s 100th anniversary Women’s Power to Stop War conference in the Hague 27-29 April 2015 we will continue to mobilise for peace and gender justice.

This is a critical time to take feminist action for transformative peace and freedom for all. To change the world, we need all of us! We invite you to join us as we craft a vision and strategy for the next century for gender justice and peace activism.

See you in the Hague!


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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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