Celebrating Feminists’ Voices, Inspiring Global Peace

WILPF Symposium Discusses Roadmap for Implementing the Women, Peace and Security Agenda

24 March 2016


It has been an exciting week at the 60th Session of the Commission on the Status of Women!

WILPF’s delegation of over 40 women from around the world, including from: Australia, Bosnia, Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), Japan, Lebanon, Netherlands, Nigeria, Norway, Syria, United States, and United Kingdom, has converged in New York to mobilise, strategise, and demand action!

Together we have called not just for women’s empowerment, but for transformational change that moves from a political economy of war to a political economy of gender justice, demilitarisation, and peace.

WILPF main event: Implementing the Women, Peace and Security Agenda: A Roadmap for the 1325 Global Study Recommendations

The first week of the CSW kicked off successfully for WILPF.

On Tuesday 15 March, WILPF and MADRE, with partners, held a symposium on Implementing the Women, Peace & Security Agenda: A Roadmap for the 1325 Global Study Recommendations” at CUNY Law Centre.

WILPF & MADRE Symposium on Implementing the WPS Agenda. Photo Credit: Marta Bautista (PeaceWomen).
WILPF & MADRE Symposium on Implementing the WPS Agenda. Photo Credit: Marta Bautista (PeaceWomen).

The symposium brought together over 150 participants, including representatives from civil society, former military, UN entities, and member states. It created space to map obstacles and build strategies to strengthen implementation and accountability on the Women, Peace and Security (WPS) agenda around the 2015 WPS Global Study, which has provided an evidence base for action.

Where are we now?

In the first part of the symposium, speakers reflected on where we are now with implementation of the Women, Peace and Security agenda and where we need to go. According to the lead author of the 2015 Global Study on Women, Peace and Security Radhika Coomaraswamy, “we need a whole paradigm shift.”

Other high level panelists supported action for transformational rather than incremental change. According to WILPF Secretary General Madeleine Rees, “we need to challenge militarism as a way of thought.” Nobel Laureate Leymah Gbowee discussed how militarism and fear has even affected her family, and reaffirmed the need for solidarity and action. She stated, “Women work with sweat, tears – and sometimes blood – to change the world.”

Mapping obstacles and developing strategies for accountability

In the second part of the symposium, participants broke out into conversation circles to map out obstacles to key Global Study recommendations and explore different strategies on key priority areas for change. Breakout groups included:

  • Addressing Militarisation to Violent Masculinities
  • Combating Violent Extremism
  • Supporting Women’s Human Rights Defenders and Peacebuilders
  • Adequate Financing for the Women, Peace, and Security Agenda
  • Participation in Peace & Reconstruction Processes

Conversation highlights:

“The legacy of colonialism and unemployment, as well as structural inequalities, have negatively affected the role of women in the society causing the development of militarism.”

  • Dean Peacock (Sonke / Men Engage Alliance)

“Counter-terrorism measures have been utilized to attack civil society and limit freedom of expression in the context of the shrinkage of the world’s democratic space.”

  • Lydia Alpizar (AWID)

“There are a lot of actors involved, and if we want real change, we need different stakeholders involved.”

  • Yifat Susskind (MADRE)

Allocation of funding is also necessary to ensure that peace processes consistently include women.”

  • Sharon Bhagwan Rolls (FemLink Pacific)

We need an independent monitoring mechanism that allows us to get information and transparency on peace processes.

  • Liesl Gerntholtz (Human Rights Watch)

The event concluded with report-backs from the conversation circles, discussion of next steps, and sharing of commitments and calls for action.

Photo Credit: Marta Bautista (PeaceWomen).
Photo Credit: Marta Bautista (PeaceWomen).
Where do we go from here?

The importance of creating an effective roadmap for implementation of the Global Study and accountability on the Women, Peace and Security agenda was underscored by the personal reflections on the life of recently assassinated environmental and indigenous rights activist and women human rights defender, Berta Cáceres, who was murdered in Honduras on March 3, 2016.

Berta’s daughter, Bertha Zúñiga Cáceres, joined participants at the event to bring attention to her mother’s legacy. She shared a powerful call for solidarity and collaborative action against militarised and extractivist industries that violate indigenous land rights and women’s human rights. She called for the struggle to continue. “Berta Vive!”

Stay involved!

Keep following along with us on social media with our hashtags #UNSCR1325, #CSW60 and @WILPF @Peace_Women.

If you participated in CSW these past couple of weeks, what have you thought of it? Please share your experience in the comments below!

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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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