Celebrating Feminists’ Voices, Inspiring Global Peace

Wind of Changes in Spain from Progressive Women and Against Austericide

11 June 2015
[Spanish version of article below]. The members of WILPF Spain are very happy because of the wind of changes brought by local elections held last 24th May in Spain. Two women from civil society organisations and deeply committed with the society are likely to be elected as the new mayors of the main cities of our country, Madrid and Barcelona.

Article by Elena Couceiro, WILPF Spain 

We are especially hopeful and happy by the fact that Manuela Carmena, founder of WILPF Spain, could become, thanks to an agreement between progressive parties and coalitions, Madrid’s mayor.

Manuela Carmena, founder of WILPF Spain, is running for the mayor’s office in Madrid, Spain. Photo credit: Álvaro Minguito, DISO Press

Manuela Carmena has a very long experience as a judge and has always defended and promoted the rights of workers and of the most vulnerable ones, and she has always been interested in WILPF’s work. She has worked hard in contributing to bring democracy to our country. She could have been killed in a terrorist act against progressive lawyers perpetrated by ultra-conservative groups in 1977, but she was absent of the office at that moment. Five of her colleagues were killed.

Manuela Carmena’s candidacy was forged by a coalition of the newly born party Podemos and several organisations and social activists, with very limited economic resources but with boundless illusion.

We are sure that Manuela Carmena will be able to bring fresh air to a city that needs and wants so much this new way of policy making. As a feminist organization that works for peace and the transformation of social injustices, we can only be happy because of this political change.

In Barcelona, on the other hand, Ada Colau, ancient speaker of the Platform of Affected by Mortgages, a movement against evictions, that have multiplied during these years of financial crisis and austerity regarding social protection, has won the local elections. Her political programme is explicitly feminist.

But the wage of changes, illusion and hope on the new forms of policy making are not limited to Barcelona and Madrid. In other cities and regional Parliaments, many friends of the peace movement and WILPF have been elected as representatives. Amparo Bella, WILPF member from Zaragoza, is going to be the member of the Aragón Parliament as part of Podemos party. We are proud of our message being heard in institutions and of social transformation being nearer and nearer. We strongly believe we need this social transformation after a crisis that has affected social justice so badly.

Joy in these days adds to the enthusiasm and illusion we still feel after The Hague meeting. It is an important moment for WILPF Spain and we would like all of you to be part of it.


Las socias de WILPF-España estamos felices por los nuevos aires de cambio que las elecciones municipales celebradas el pasado 24 de mayo han traído a nuestra sociedad. Dos mujeres provenientes de organizaciones de la sociedad civil y profundamente comprometidas con la sociedad serán las probables nuevas alcaldesas de Madrid y Barcelona, las dos ciudades más importantes del país.

Nos ilusiona de manera especial que Manuela Carmena, socia fundadora de nuestra sección, se pueda convertir, gracias a un pacto de las fuerzas progresistas, en alcaldesa de Madrid. Manuela Carmena ha sido jueza, ha defendido siempre los derechos de los trabajadores y colectivos más vulnerables y ha estado siempre muy interesada por el trabajo de WILPF. Ha trabajado mucho por traer la democracia a España y se libró por poco de sufrir un atentado contra abogados laboralistas progresistas por parte de ultraderechistas. Su candidatura se fue forjando en el marco de una coalición entre el partido político Podemos y numerosas organizaciones y activistas sociales, con muy pocos medios y en medio de una ilusión desbordante. Estamos seguras que será capaz de traer aire fresco a una ciudad que tanto lo necesita y ansía, y como una organización feminista que trabaja por la paz y la transformación de las injusticias sociales no podemos sino alegrarnos de este cambio político.

En Barcelona, por otro lado, Ada Colau, antigua portavoz de la Plataforma de Afectados por la Hipoteca, un movimiento en contra de los desahucios, que se han multiplicado en estos años de crisis financiera y austeridad en las políticas sociales, encabeza la lista más votada para las elecciones del municipio de Barcelona. Su programa político es explícitamente feminista.

Pero la ola de cambio, ilusión y esperanza en las nuevas formas de hacer política no se limitan a Madrid y Barcelona. En otros muchos ayuntamientos y parlamentos autonómicos van a participar amigas y amigos del movimiento por la paz y de WILPF. Amparo Bella, wilpfera de Zaragoza, formará parte de las Cortes de Aragón como diputada por Podemos. Estamos orgullosas de que nuestro mensaje vaya a poder calar en las instituciones y que la transformación social que tanto necesitamos, después de años en los que la crisis nos ha golpeado tan duramente, se esté acercando.

La alegría de estos días se suma a la fuerza con la que volvimos de La Haya. Es un momento importante para WILPF del que queremos que seamos todas partícipes.


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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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