Portrait of Madeleine Rees

Letter from the Secretary-General

None of this work would be possible without our worldwide community of partners and supportes.

2019 was marked by a constant daily struggle for peace, to build movements and to demand participation and justice. And we made progress – some. But still we are not at peace. Not within communities, states, internationally or within ourselves. Nor are we at peace with our planet. The structures we have created and which dominate our interactions on all levels are still those of patriarchy.

Until that is changed, peace will be impossible to achieve.

Fundamental change – change built on the feminist principles of peace and justice, which permeate the very essence of how we organise our interactions – is the principle aim of the Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom. At the very core of feminist peace are a commitment to care and a shared belief in our common humanity – both of which are needed now more than ever.

On these pages, we look back on the progress that was made in 2019 and how different strands of feminist peace were built through WILPF stories from around the world. These stories are snapshots of the realities that WILPF members and partners address in seeking change on a daily basis.

From Syria to Colombia, the Korean Peninsula to the Democratic Republic of the Congo, in 2019 WILPF members were part of a movement for change: on climate, against violence, against militarism and for peace, standing with one another in solidarity as a powerful, global movement.

As I write this in mid-2020, we have found ourselves living in a different world in so many ways. The consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic will have differentiated effects on women, and long-lasting effects on society, peace and security. The crisis has exposed the fault lines that WILPF has been uncovering throughout our history. Our political economy work has underlined how capitalism and the ideology of neoliberalism have devastated the structures which should ensure cooperation and solidarity.

We have shown how militarisation as a way of thought has diverted resources away from crucial areas where they should have been directed, and the inevitable impact that this has had on the world’s ability to address the crisis.

We know that activism works to create change. And we know that any emergency presents an opportunity to pursue that change. As we move forward, we plan to redouble our efforts, resolute in our transformative vision.

Slowly, we will keep making progress. In 2019, that progress was achieved by building capacity through experience and knowledge sharing between countries, increasing linkages and networks with like-minded groups and the academic community and creating spaces for women to engage at the national and international levels.

None of this work would be possible without our worldwide community of partners and supporters. To each and every champion of WILPF and the vision we share, thank you for being by our side on this journey – demonstrating, advocating, sharing, speaking, donating.

Together, we will change the world.

Madeleine Rees

Madeleine Rees
Secretary-General
Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom