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Women, Food Security, Conflict and Peace

13 March 2014

We all hear a lot about women, conflict and security… but what about food security? What is the connection here?

This is the International Year of Family Farming, and it is the time in which we can work to ensure women’s voices can be heard. During the event on “Women, Food Security, Conflict and Peace” that took place during this session of the Human Rights Council (HRC), Emma McGhie from the Italian Section of WILPF, mentioned their involvement in the national work of the civil society in this direction, uniting WILPF’s gender lens to the National Committee on Family Farming and the one on Food Sovereignty.

Two are the aspects to keep in mind: on one side, women suffer more from malnutrition and this also increases the risk of babies dying. Of course, in situations of conflict, this picture is worsened. On the other side, women play vital roles in ensuring the food security of their families, which is strictly linked to the outbreak of conflicts.

The importance of agriculture and the impact of multinational corporations

When talking about food security and conflicts, we must not forget agriculture. The crises of it, and the linked food-prices hikes have a key part in creating conflicts. As stated in the “Wake up before it’s too late” report from the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) there is urgent need for a shift in agricultural development, from a monoculture-based and high-external input dependent industrial production, towards sustainable and regenerative production systems that also improve the productivity of small-scale farmers.

Women have a key role in the transformative changes that are needed, they are the custodians of local food systems and of seeds, ensuring biodiversity. But today seeds are being genetically modified and patented by multinational corporations, and food sovereignty is at stake.

This conversation on the impact of multinational corporations is particularly important at the HRC as States and stakeholders are also discussing the necessity to have a treaty regulating the activities of these companies.

The right to food, women’s participation and peace

The UN Special Rapporteur on the Right to Food has defined it as “The right to have regular, permanent and unrestricted access (…) to quantitatively and qualitatively adequate and sufficient food corresponding to the cultural traditions of the people to which the consumer belongs, and which ensure a physical and mental, individual and collective, fulfilling and dignified life free of fear”. If this human right is not granted, there is no justice and no peace.

Thus, women’s participation in the prevention, management and resolution of conflicts, as provided in the UN Security Council Resolution 1325, has to be ensured also in relation to their contribution to food security, which is obstructed by various factors: gender-based violence, which prevents women from taking care of their fields or travelling to markets, lack of basic infrastructure (rural roads, information infrastructure), and discrimination in the access to land, credit, training and other resources.

As indicated by WILPF’s President Adilia Caravaca, our work for peace and security must lead us to advocate for agrarian policies, land tenure laws, and all that would allow women’s equal inclusion in the path to build peace.

This is just a starting point. We hope that many of you will join us in this peaceful fight.

Sign up to our Newsletter Update from the HRC to follow our work during this session and learn about important human rights issues!

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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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