Celebrating Feminists’ Voices, Inspiring Global Peace

WILPF Statement: Working Group on Transnational Corporations and Business Enterprises with Respect to Human Rights (Day 2)

25 October 2016

Second session (24-28 October 2016)
Item 4: panel on “primary obligations of States, including extraterritorial obligations related to TNCs and other business enterprises with respect to human rights”. 


Patrizia Scannella, WILPF Human Rights programme director.

Thank you Madam Chair,

As noted by Ms. Ana María Suárez Francos, the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women is one of the human rights bodies that has elaborated the scope and implications of states’ extraterritorial human rights obligations. It has, for example, affirmed that States parties’ obligations requiring them “to take all appropriate measures to eliminate discrimination against women by any person, organization or enterprise, also extend to acts of national corporations operating extraterritorially.”[1]

As we indicated yesterday, the adverse human rights impacts of corporate activities are not gender neutral. For example, women experience direct and indirect consequences of mining activities in different, and often more prominent, ways than men.

In the case of artisanal mining, women generally play a much larger – but often invisible – role than in the large-scale mining sector. Artisanal mining sites, such as the ones covered in WILPF’s research on the DRC, [2] are at the bottom of the supply chain. The corporations producing the final goods contribute to the precarious living and working conditions in these sites, since they are responsible for setting the prices of mined products.

Women are among the most impacted by the insalubrious and precarious conditions in those sites. They are also among the most impacted by the militarisation of the sites stemming from the use of private and security forces.

Violations against women identified in our research include gender discrimination, slavery-like conditions, deterioration of reproductive health (e.g. menstrual disruption, miscarriages, vaginal yeast infections), violence, forced displacement, sexual exploitation in (and because of) artisanal mines, exposure to HIV/AIDS and other sexually transmitted diseases.

Bonita Meyersfeld, an expert who was a working group panelist last year, has recommended that corporations “should determine whether their activities create, encourage, reinforce or exacerbate existing gender-based inequalities” of their proposed corporate activity. [3] She also recommended that they be required to ensure that their supply chains are subject to strict gender considerations.[4] These are measures that should be reflected in a treaty.

We would like to ask: how can extraterritorial obligations of states contribute to gender impact assessments with regard to the impact of companies’ activities outside their home state and throughout their supply chains?

[1] CEDAW/C/GC/28

[2] Life at the bottom of the chain: Women in artisanal mines in the DRC, August 2016

[3] Business, human rights and gender: a legal approach to external and internal considerations by Bonita Meyersfeld, Director of the Centre for Applied Legal Studies and Associate Professor of law at the School of Law, University of Witwatersrand, Johannesburg

[4] Ditto

Share the post

Your donation isn’t just a financial transaction; it’s a step toward a more compassionate and equitable world. With your support, we’re poised to achieve lasting change that echoes through generations. Thank you!

Thank you!

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

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit. Mauris facilisis luctus rhoncus. Praesent eget tellus sit amet enim consectetur condimentum et vel ante. Nulla facilisi. Suspendisse et nunc sem. Vivamus ullamcorper vestibulum neque, a interdum nisl accumsan ac. Cras ut condimentum turpis. Vestibulum ante ipsum primis in faucibus orci luctus et ultrices posuere cubilia curae; Curabitur efficitur gravida ipsum, quis ultricies erat iaculis pellentesque. Nulla congue iaculis feugiat. Suspendisse euismod congue ultricies. Sed blandit neque in libero ultricies aliquam. Donec euismod eget diam vitae vehicula. Fusce hendrerit purus leo. Aenean malesuada, ante eu aliquet mollis, diam erat suscipit eros, in.


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.

Skip to content