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WILPF’s 'Feminist Playbook for Peace' Builds Non-Violent and Playful Strategies for Transformation at AWID Forum 2016

23 September 2016

On 10 September 2016, WILPF held our main event at the AWID Forum, entitled ‘Feminist Playbook for Peace‘, one of four major sessions aimed at spotlighting opportunities for cross-movement engagement and building collaborative action.

Where are We Now? Toward Rebuilding a Splintering House for All

MADRE Executive Director, Yifat Susskind, introduced the session by asking participants to build on successful strategies for alternative #FeministFutures across movements – such as the LGBTQ movement – to create change: not just among nation states, but in hearts and minds.

Susskind invited participants to think about our current world as a house that protects some and leaves others out. The house can be understood as our current institutions, especially neoliberalism and the nation state. However, today, cracks are showing. Within this context, Susskind asked: “How do we repurpose our strategies?”

Context: From Militarism and Exploitation to Gender Justice and Peace

WILPF Crisis Response Programme Manager, Laila Alodaat, then shared highlights from WILPF’s 100th anniversary peace summit in April 2016, which brought together 1,000 activists from 80 countries to mobilise around Women’s Power to Stop War.

At the WILPF 100th summit, activists analysed root causes of war and violence, and called for action to address these root causes for sustainable peace and gender justice. This included analysing gendered power in our world, how militarised economies of violence and war based on violent masculinities create economies of war rather than peace, and how feminist movement building is critical to overturn patriarchy, racism, and corporate power.

“We must reject the assumption by our governments that they have our consent for violence and hold them accountable,” stated Alodaat. “We are committed to rejecting the heroism of war, and recognising the heroism of peace.”

Knowledge is with Everyone: Engaging Diverse Actors for Transformative Change

Oula Ramadan, Badael Foundation, at the Communities and Social Structures breakout session. Photo: Orla Sheridan.
Oula Ramadan, Badael Foundation, at the Communities and Social Structures breakout session. Photo: Orla Sheridan.

After introductory context, participants broke up into discussion groups around key actors and institutions that must be addressed to realise feminist futures for peace. Participants were invited to explore trends, work needed, and cross-movements opportunities in each group.

Recognising that we all carry knowledge and expertise, they then were invited to report back and discuss together how different engagement strategies with different actors could be put together like different puzzle pieces to strengthen synergies across movements for transformation and sustainable peace, freedom and justice.

Breakout groups addressed key actors and institutions for change, including: armed actors, economy/corporations, community/social structure, media, and men.


Armed actors

“Militarisation is an expression of patriarchy.” – Katherine Ronderos, WILPF-Colombia

“Women have devised strategies for confronting militarisation and armed actors. For example in India, women have stripped and protested rape and killing, took a pledge to honour our women, and submitted India’s first feminist political party to ensure women’s human rights and peace.” – Binalakshmi Nepram, Control Arms Foundation of India

“We must identify actors and their role, and lead our countries to sign and ratify the Arms Trade Treaty and engage women in negotiations about peace.” – Annie Matundu Mbambi, WILPF-DRC

María Muñoz, WILPF Human Rights Director, shares from the Economies and Corporations breakout session. Photo: Orla Sheridan.
María Muñoz, WILPF Human Rights Director, shares from the Economies and Corporations breakout session. Photo: Orla Sheridan.


“There has been a hostile take-over of the state: a rise of corporate power and a reduction of state power to provide women’s human security through militarized and exploitative growth that puts profit over people and planet.” – Abigail Ruane, WILPF / PeaceWomen

“We need to give back the power to the people and to agencies that represent people, perhaps through a global strike. There needs to be a new system where we move the money from military to social expenditures so we can cultivate happiness and listen to our indigenous sisters in protecting mother earth.” – Maria Munoz, WILPF/ Human Rights

“In Africa, there is extractivism and exploitation of natural resources, and economic structures that do not favour the environment. We have to go to the field, go to people without internet, and report this on and offline, and make companies responsible.” – Bexi Cruz, WILPF-Colombia

Community/social structure

“Let us help women break the silence: help them have the power to solve their own solutions.” – Amalkher Djibrine, WILPF-Chad

“The answer is in the room: women are able to find their own local strategies that lead to peace, prevent conflict, and find solutions to current problems. All that is needed is to support the women who are already doing the work.” – Oula Ramadan, Badael Foundation

Sylvie Ndongmo, WILPF- Cameroon, at the Media breakout session. Photo: Orla Sheridan.
Sylvie Ndongmo, WILPF- Cameroon, at the Media breakout session. Photo: Orla Sheridan.


“Culture and norms on media still stigmatise women.” – Sylvie Ndongmo, WILPF-Cameroon

“Media production is driven by men and male gaze. We need media and stories led and produced by grassroots women, where women can tell their own stories, in their own words, about what it means to be a woman or man in terms of power and influence. We need to strengthen funding for culture change, and use the power of storytelling to change hearts and minds.” – Jamie Dobie, Peace is Loud


“There are men who are identified as advancing the rights of women, but they have refused to be called feminists, because of the misconception of what feminism is.” – Chioma Okezie, WILPF-Nigeria

“We need to build idea of men being allies to the feminist movement. Need different strategies for working with men from local community to UN standpoints.” – Marcos Nascimento Promundo, Brazil

“We must give media the correct tools to engage boys and men, in order to understand, respect, and align their rights to women’s rights.” – Annie Matundu Mbambi, WILPF-DRC

Putting the Puzzle Together 

WILPF Secretary General Madeleine Rees reflected on how we synergise our strategies among actors for transformative change. “The only way of getting the revolution to happen is for each person to look up,” she stated. “We need to look up and keep our linkages to ensure we are going in the same direction.”

“If we put all this together, we can create a system that is repaired in the way that we want it to be,” Rees affirmed. “From the community, to the international, from the financial and economic, to the funding of grassroots, we must fund real human rights attainment for political realisation of our ideals.”

“We also need to move the money,” said Rees. “We can move the money by intelligently working with those who have the money – the Sustainable Development Goals, the trillions of dollars in international financial institutions, development banks, and otherwise – so this money is used as drivers for social change not conflict.”

WILPF Participants at AWID 'Feminist Playbook for Peace' event. Photo: WILPF.
WILPF Participants at AWID ‘Feminist Playbook for Peace’ event. Photo: WILPF.

Next Steps

As part of our work in moving from a political economy of war to a political economy of peace based on gender justice, WILPF has launched an interactive #MoveTheMoney toolkit to raise awareness of the need to move the money from a political economy of war to a political economy of peace and gender justice.

Join us in sharing the video (available in English, Spanish, Arabic, Portuguese and French) and social media memes, and calling for your government to #MoveTheMoney!

Find out more:

YouTube video


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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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