The Women, Peace and Security Programme (PeaceWomen) is a programme of the Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom (WILPF), the longest-standing women’s peace organisation in the world. PeaceWomen was founded in 2000 to strengthen women’s rights and participation in international peace and security efforts. PeaceWomen monitors, informs, and advocates for women’s’ rights and participation in conflict situations and promotes gender analysis in conflict prevention.
Based in the New York Office of WILPF, PeaceWomen facilitates monitoring of the United Nations system, with a particular focus on the Women, Peace and Security agenda. The Women, Peace and Security agenda is a pioneering UN Security Council policy framework including resolutions 1325, 1820, 1888, 1889, 1960, 2106, and 2122, which recognise the importance of acknowledging and integrating women’s experience into issues of peace and security.
Meet our WILPF staff team and leadership below.
You can also meet our current fellows and learn about the fellowship/internship programme here.
Madeleine Rees, WILPF Secretary General
Madeleine Rees qualified as a lawyer in 1990 and became a partner in a large law firm in the UK in 1994 specialising in discrimination law, particularly in the area of employment, and public and administrative law and she worked on behalf of both the Commission for Racial Equality and the Equal Opportunities Commission mainly on developing strategies to establish rights under domestic law through the identification of test cases to be brought before the courts. Madeleine Rees brought cases both to the European Court of Human Rights and the European Court in Luxembourg. She was cited as one of the leading lawyers in the field of discrimination in the Chambers directory of British lawyers. In 1998 she began working for the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights as the gender expert and Head of Office in Bosnia and Herzegovina.
In that capacity she worked extensively on the rule of law, gender and post conflict, transitional justice and the protection of social and economic rights. The OHCHR Office in Bosnia was the first to take a case of rendition to Guantanamo before a court. The OHCHR office dealt extensively with the issue of trafficking and Madeleine was a member of the expert coordination group of the trafficking task force of the Stability Pact, thence the Alliance against Trafficking. From September 2006 to April 2010 she was the head of the Women’s rights and gender unit focusing on using law to describe the different experiences of men and women, particularly post conflict. The aim was to better understand and interpret the concept of Security using human rights law as complementary to humanitarian law and how to make the human rights machinery more responsive and therefore more effective from a gender perspective.
Maria Butler, WILPF Global Programmes Director
Maria Butler is the Global Programmes Director of the Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom (WILPF) and is based at the UN office in NY. A leading expert, she is the author of numerous publications including the "Women, Peace and Security Handbook", a ten analysis of the Security Council's resolutions, editorials and resources. Maria regularly presents at, and facilities briefings, trainings and consultations with security council members, other states, UN officials and civil society groups across a range of policy, peace and security topics. Maria works directly with women advocates and partners in conflict-affected situations to link local and global policy implementation.
For example, she led the work to organise the first ever meeting of the UN Security Council with Syrian civil society in January 2014. Maria has pioneered the development of new tools for knowledge-sharing, including the first ever iPhone application on area of work of the Security Council and an ongoing successful lecture series. Maria is an Attorney-at-Law and a member of the New York State Bar. She holds a Masters in Human Rights from the London School of Economics and is a native of Ireland. Prior to WILPF, Maria gained experience working in a human rights, a humanitarian, and a community development organisation, she has also worked for a short period with the Permanent Mission of Ireland as advisor on a range of policy matters including Middle East.
Abigail E. Ruane, PeaceWomen Programme Director
Abigail is Director of the PeaceWomen Programme of the Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom (WILPF) and leads work on Women, Peace and Security from the WILPF UN office in New York. She is a recognised women’s human rights expert and leads PeaceWomen’s advocacy in addressing silos between security and development processes at the UN. Abigail’s advocacy builds on her internationally recognised, award winning doctoral research on global negotiations over women’s rights. Before joining PeaceWomen, Abigail acted as WILPF-US Representative to the United Nations (UN), consulted on gender and sustainable development at the Women’s Environment and Development Organization (WEDO), and taught human rights classes at Hunter College.
She is committed to envisioning and creating a world of gender justice, and has written a book on using J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings to teach about International Relations. Abigail holds an M.A. and Ph.D. in International Relations from the University of Southern California (USC) and a B.A. in Psychology from Cornell University.
Ashish Mahajan, WILPF UN Office Manager
Ashish has extensive experience in non-profit governance, risk management, and compliance. Before joining WILFP he worked as program operations manager for the Sarai Program at the Centre for the Study of Developing Societies in New Delhi, which engages with the transformation of urban space, contemporary issues, media, and information.
As an independent production consultant, Ashish has also handled the production of many documentaries and audiovisual art installations, working with leading filmmakers and contemporary artists from around the world.
Marina Kumskova, PeaceWomen Programme Associate
Marina Kumskova is Programme Associate at Women, Peace and Security Programme of WILPF. She holds a Master's Degree in Human Rights from Columbia University and has previously worked for several non-profit and academic research centres, where she conducted in-depth human rights analysis across the security spectrum. Now, she is pursuing WILPF’s work on promoting state's accountability for women's rights violations and a conflict prevention approach through disarmament and women's empowerment. Marina is committed to envisioning and creating a world of gender justice and demilitarised security.