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Connect Programme 2023-24

Since Autumn 2023, we have been bring members together for an informative and inspiring WILPF Connect programme. These webinars and discussions introduce important topics and speakers.

As well as connecting our WILPF UK members, this Connect Programme explores, share and discuss issues connected to WILPF’s three main campaigning themes: disarmament; women, peace and security; and climate justice. All three themes are also connected by human rights. 
Disarmament: WILPF promotes a feminist approach to disarmament, foreign policy, peace-building and conflict resolution, and listening to and learning from women’s voices.
Women, Peace and Security: WILPF advocates for sustainable peace, human security, humanitarian responses and human rights initiatives where women, women’s rights and gender issues are always on the agenda. 
Climate Justice: WILPF campaigns on environmental justice as a key pathway to peace and a just world. We see the climate emergency, which is displacing people and creating refugees, as a serious cause, and consequence, of global conflict.
We also aimed to connect our webinars to significant national and international commemorative and activism days, such as Remembrance Day and Human Rights Day.

Upcoming webinar schedule:

Catch up on past webinars:

March 2024: Connecting two years of war in Ukraine with reflections from feminist non-violent perspectives – seeking a different future

The devastation visited on Ukraine is shocking. The suffering, lives lost, crimes against humanity, human rights abuses, gender-based violence, destruction of infrastructure, environmental degradation, food insecurity, destruction of families, homes, livelihoods and communities are appalling. The economic effects of the war on Ukraine are incalculable. The threat of a nuclear holocaust is real, with its catastrophic consequences for the future of our world. The reckless rhetoric and grandstanding of militarism and the absence of any meaningful efforts at diplomacy cannot deliver lasting peace and security. Strategic and political differences must be addressed by observing international law and through mediation to reach a negotiated settlement. And women activists are pushing harder than ever to have their voices heard. We seek a different future, we seek peace-building solutions… connecting to a community who want to make a change.

Almut Rochowanski, WILPF Austria, is an independent activist who has been working in the former Soviet Union, including Ukraine and Russia, for many years, particularly with women’s groups on issues of conflict and civil society development.

Barrie Hebb is an economist, academic and consultant working with a range of NGOs, agencies, institutes and foundations, who has lived in Ukraine for over eight years and has both direct and scholarly knowledge of the impact of war and other crises on Ukrainian society.

Find more resources here.

February 2024: Connecting the addiction to war and militarism: Campaigning for peace, climate justice, and the abolition of war.

David Collins is a former Royal Marines Officer, active with the Veterans for Peace USA Climate and Militarism Group, and an Executive Committee member of the Movement for the Abolition of War.  He explains his roles within the security and military forces, and why he resigned at 32, later becoming an offshore directional drilling engineer in the oil and gas industry. After a personal catharsis, he took an MSc finding fulfillment both in the peace movement and in the renewables industry where for 15 years he was Head of Biogas at the Renewable Energy Association. 

David includes a discussion on the “rules of warfare” compared with the actual nature of war, with particular reference to the diaastrous and cruel consequnces for women, girls and children, citing the particular case of the UK’s unique addiction to military intervention in preference to wise diplomacy, and challenge the commonly held view that war is either necessary or inevitable by exploring the prohibition or abolition of war.  What is the direct effect of war on global heating, climate justice and exploitation of scarce resources? How much carbon will be emitted – and for how long?   What are the realities and consequences of the current expansion of military budgets and the spectacular profit bonanza currently being accrued by arms companies. Does the description of warfare by US General Butler in 1918 as “A Racket” still resonate today?

David has shared a number of resources and suggested actions for us all to follow up on, you can find out more here.

January 2024: Connecting Climate Justice, Civil Society and COP28: A Feminist Analysis

Michelle Benzing is one of WILPF International’s Environmental Consultant, working at the intersections of human rights, disarmament, gender, and ecological justice. Michelle reported back from the international WILPF delegation of 5 feminist peace activists to the UN COP 28 in December 2023. WILPF’s delegation networked with other NGOs to put demilitarization for gender and climate justice on the climate talks agenda. She offers a feminist analysis the COP 28 process and the achievements of WILPF and the civil society delegations.

December 2024: Connecting Feminism with Human Rights, and Commemorating the 75th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights

Helen is a women’s rights activist, write and academic and also the great-granddaughter of Emmilene Pankhurst and granddaughter of Sylvia Pankhurst, leaders of the British suffragette movement. She is currently Senior Advisor to CARE International, working in the UK and in Ethiopia. Helen works locally and internationally as a women’s rights’ activist and coalition convenor, academic, university chancellor, international development worker, author and speaker. She is the author of ‘Deeds Not Words‘, the Story of Women’s Rights, Then and Now, 2018. She has over 30 years’ experience of advocacy, collaborative campaigning, developing organisational strategies, personal and financial management, action research, programing, fundraising and representation.
November 2023: Connecting Mining and Militarism  – The London Mining Network

Daniel Selwyn is a researcher and educator for the London Mining Network. He has authored reports including ‘Martial Mining’, which highlights the links between mining, the international arms trade, and warfare. From the minerals needed to produce weapons to the military force needed to secure and police mines themselves, the report spotlights large-scale mining as a militarised process.
October 2023: Connecting with our International Work with Sylvie Ndongmo, WILPF International President

Sylvie 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. She is currently president of WILPF International.