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Women as Leaders of Peaceful Transition in Syria

18 July 2014

Despite the exclusion of Syrian women and civil society from any formal processes to resolve the ongoing conflict, a number of Syrian women organisations are proactively collaborating to advocate for their rights and call for the implementation of international mechanisms to safeguard their status.

WILPF held a side event at the Human Rights Council 26th session and invited Syrian women activists to inform the Human Rights Council and member states about the situation of women under the ongoing conflict and their recommendations to ensure women’s crucial role in the political transformation in Syria.

The event was moderated by Barbro Svedberg, MENA Agenda 1325 Project Manager at WILPF while Madeleine Rees, the Secretary-General of WILPF made a moving opening statement about state obligations towards the ongoing conflict in Syria.

The Syrian activists spoke about the current situation facing Syrian women within their different sectors and regions.

First to speak was Rajaa Altalli, co-founder and Co-Director of the Centre for Civil Society and Democracy in Syria (CCSDS). Rajaa Altalli spoke about the significance surrounding the presence of women in local peace building initiatives and the importance of a localised approach to the peace process and humanitarian aid. Women play vital roles within society, and without their inclusion, key aspects of the peace process will be overlooked.

Sabah Hallak, Board Member of the Syrian Women’s League and founding Member of Syrian League for Citizenship continued by speaking about the challenges facing the Syrian Women Initiative for Peace and Democracy and the need for international support to insure women participation in the transitional period and beyond. Sabah Hallak has been continuously active within international spheres, advocating for women’s inclusion. Most recently she helped announce the UK National Action Plan for Syria in London last month.

Laila Alodaat human rights lawyer and MENA Associate at WILPF spoke about the impact of on going violence on women using from a legal perspective. She highlighted the challenges faced by civilians due to the complete failure of the rule of law and the need to adapt a civilians-centred strategy when aiming for a political solution in Syria.

And Finally, Syrian Journalist Milia Eidmouni who co-founded the Syrian Female Journalists Network spoke about the deteriorating situation in refugee camps and the disproportionate impact on women. She also provided recommendations for a sustainable and gender-sensitive approach in aid, rehabilitation and reconstruction.

The women also released their recommendations for a peaceful Syria.

Although the work for a peaceful Syria is a long way from completion, the continued bravery of these activists proves their determination for a Syria free from conflict.


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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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