PeaceWomen Leaders

Abigail Ruane is Director of the Women, Peace and Security (WPS) Programme of the Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom (WILPF) and leads the strategy, monitoring, advocacy and outreach work of the Programme based at the UN office in New York.

She is a recognised women’s human rights expert and leads WILPF’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 WILPF, Abigail acted as WILPF-US Representative to the United Nations (UN), consulted on gender and sustainable development at the Women’s Environment and Development Organisation (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 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.



Annie Matundu Mbambi is a Gender and Development Consultant and holds a double Master's degree in Public Financial and Economic Planning from the State University of Antwerp, Belgium.

She has 20 years of experience as a women’s rights activist and has been the Manager of the Centre Protestant d’Approvisionnement en Medicaments de l’E .C.C. Currently, she is the representative and Chair Lady of the Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom (WILPF) DRC. Her special focus is on gender mainstreaming and women’s empowerment and particularly on UNSCR 1325 (2000). She has been involved in campaigning for gender mainstreaming and the elimination of all forms of violence against women. She is helping to promote social entrepreneurship for women and has initiated a small bakery and cooperative farms for women in the outskirts of Kinshasa to enable women to generate income while receiving some education. She is also active with women in politics. She is the Vice President of Action des Femmes du Bas Fleuve working on gender and climate change, Board Executive Member of the Genre en Action as well the Civil Society Focal Point for the Centre of Women and Conflict in the Great Lakes Region.  She had been selected as a member of the Advisory Committee of UN Women in the DRC.



Ghida Anani is an assistant professor at the Faculty of Public Health in the Lebanese University and the Modern University of Business and Sciences (MUBS).  

She is a Co-founder and Program Coordinator at KAFA (enough) Violence and Exploitation and a Gender-Based Violence Senior Expert Consultant. Prior to her work with KAFA, Ms. Anani worked as a medical and social worker at the Lebanese Council to Resist Violence against Women (LECORVAW). In 2000, she was a guest speaker at the UNSG press conference for the International Day for Elimination of Violence against Women, and has conducted much training on women’s rights and GBV, family violence and child abuse, in addition to producing a number of published studies and articles, training kits and community educational materials. In 2003 she completed her Bachelor’s degree as a Medical Social Worker from the Lebanese University and later in 2007 obtained a Masters in Clinical counseling. In 2004, Anani received a Diploma in “Protecting Children from Abuse” from Saint - Joseph University in Beirut. In 2008, Ms. Anani received the Excellence in Collaborative Teaching Award from the American University of Beirut. In June 2011, Ms. Anani founded and managed a new organisation called ABAAD (Dimensions)-Resource Center for Gender Equality covering the MENA region. She succeeded in establishing the First Men's Center in the MENA region for the rehabilitation of men with abusive behaviors and 3 shelters for abused women and their children in Lebanon. Moreover, for the last couple of years Anani was dedicated to helping Syrian refugees in Lebanon, particularly women refugees. She helped Syrian women who suffered Gender Based Violence due to the crisis, through counselling and shelter, mobilised the local Lebanese community and collected relief items for children and women who were in need. In 2014, Anani was selected for the Women in Diplomacy School by the Italian Society for International Organisation. The Italian government and her organisation, ABAAD, obtained the WOMANITY Award for innovative approaches to end gender-based violence in June 2014.



Joy Ada Onyesoh is the President of Women's International League for Peace and Freedom in Nigeria.

She holds a first degree in Applied Chemistry, a Post Graduate diploma in Business Management, Master of Science degree in Environmental Management, and a Master of Science Degree in Development Studies. She is currently researching for her Doctoral degree in Transformative Studies and studying for a degree in LLB Law. Joy is a facilitator, a team player and has over ten years experience working with women from diverse cultural and philosophical backgrounds. Joy is passionate about women participating in peace processes at all levels and has rich expertise working the on women, peace and security agenda, with a special focus on UNSCR 1325 (2000). She facilitated the first international workshop on UNSCR 1325 (2000) in Nigeria in 2009 and facilitated the translation of that transcript into four Nigerian Indigenous languages. Joy is committed to advocating and lobbying for the full implementation of UNSCR 1325 (2000) in Nigeria and is very passionate about her work.



Maria Butler is the Director of Global Programmes of Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom (WILPF).

A leading expert, she is the author of numerous publications including the "Women, Peace and Security Handbook", an 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 an 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 human rights, humanitarian, and community development organisations. She has also worked for a short period with the Permanent Mission of Ireland as advisor on a range of policy matters including the Middle East.



Paola Esther Leottau Mercado is a feminist woman from Cartagena Colombia committed to working for the defense and promotion of human rights of women. She has a degree from the Faculty of Law and Social Sciences of the Universidad de Cartagena as well as experience in legal consulting, research and intervention in refugees communities.

Interested and concerned about the situation of women and their difficult access to justice, Paola started her job with the Ombudsman in 2009, applying her judiciary skills. In 2010, she joined WILPF Colombia as a lawyer. She currently serves as Coordinator of the project "Building community perspectives to support victims and prevent sexual violence in Colombia", which carries out activities including workshops, counseling and support to women victims of sexual violence in the context of armed conflict in Departamento de Bolivar.



Ray Acheson is the Director of Reaching Critical Will (RCW).

She monitors and analyses many international processes related to disarmament and arms control. Ray is the editor of RCW’s reports and publications on a variety of subjects related to weapons and militarism. She is also on the Board of Directors of the Los Alamos Study Group and on the International Steering Group of the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons. She previously worked with the Institute for Defense and Disarmament Studies. Ray has an Honours BA from the University of Toronto in Peace and Conflict Studies and an MA in Politics from the New School for Social Research.



Rida Al-Tubuly is an activist and Professor of Pharmacology at faculty of Pharmacy, University of Tripoli.

She was awarded her M.Sc. degree from the University of Warsaw, Poland in 1987 and her PhD from London University, UK in 1997. After the liberation of Tripoli in 2011, she led an NGO that worked towards the promotion of human rights and women’s political & economic empowerment, “Maan Nabneeha Movement: Together We Build It”. Rida Al-Tubuly is fighting for women’s rights and is interested in issues such as gender equality and the political empowerment of women. Her passion is empowering women, particularly getting Libyan women to be considered as real actors and equal partners in building up Libya. She is supporting the participation of women in the committee drafting constitution, fighting to have women’s rights properly written in the Libyan permanent constitution. She also supports the right of Libyan women to act in pursuing peace and security. Ms. Al-Tubuly is very interested in women, peace and security and keen to work on implementing the UNSCR1325 (2000) in Libya. To that end, she is the executive manager of the 1325 Network in Libya, a network which advocates for UNSCR1325 (2000) in Libya, and coauthor of the first Libyan Civil Society Monitoring Report on UNSCR1325 (2000).



Sabah Alhallak is a lawyer, CEDAW expert and women’s rights activist focusing on women’s and citizens equal rights.

She is a certified gender trainer and has been involved in many training workshops across the Arab region. Ms. Alhallak is a board member of the Syrian Women’s League. She is active in both international and national processes related to women’s representation in peace building and transition for a new democratic Syria. She recently participated in several events: a UN General Assembly event on Syria, meetings with the office of the Commission of Inquiry to Syria, UN Women-hosted Syrian civil society meetings in Geneva and Amman, events in the Human Rights Council and the CEDAW pre-session. Syrian Women’s League is a partner of Women's International League for Peace and Freedom (WILPF). Syrian Women’s League is the oldest women’s organisation in Syria and influential with human rights organisations, the international community and secular segments of the civil society. Due to the conflict and the illegality of organisations to function and grow inside Syria prior to the conflict, the Syrian Women’s League has been working through partnerships and networks of civil society activists and has not accepted formal members as this might jeopardise their security. The Syrian Women’s League has qualified gender specialists and provides a feminist and legalistic, constitutional and institutional perspective to a transition process in Syria. Many of their members have previous experience working in Government positions, and had an important role monitoring, advocating and critically analysing the Syrian implementation of CEDAW. Sabah Alhallak is one of the founding members of the Syrian League for Citizenship (SLC) and reviews all the gender aspect of the organisation. Syrian League for Citizenship focuses on citizenship values in all Syrian communities and tries to work on human rights and the culture of citizenship, the relation between citizens and the state, the involvement of citizens in building the state. Sabah Alhallak is ongoing member of the board at the Syrian Women League in Damascus and Syrian league for Citizenship, and works with Syrian women refugees by "KAFA" Lebanon NGO. From 1999-2001, Sabah Alhallak was Director of the international campaign woman and peace in Syria and from 1999-2002, Sabah Alhallak was member in administrative board at national dialog (NGO).



Suaad Allami is the Founder and Director of Sadr City Women's Center and Legal Clinic (Baghdad, Iraq). 

A leader in the women’s rights movement, Suaad Allami has practiced law in Iraq’s family courts for 17 years. In 2007, she opened Iraq’s first all-female legal clinic under the aegis of Women in Progress, which she founded and directs. Her oversight of the first continuing education conference for women lawyers attracted nearly 100 lawyers across Baghdad, and the Iraq Women’s Foundation honored her work in 2008, naming her Female Lawyer of the Year. She was also one of eight women to receive the 2009 International Women of Courage Award from Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and First Lady Michelle Obama. The United Nations Assistance Mission to Iraq also appointed Ms. Allami operations supervisor of humanitarian food aid to orphaned children in Baghdad and Sadr City. She oversaw the distribution of 2,350 family food packages; 6,000 Iftar food packages, taken to break the fast each evening during Ramadan; and 2,000 kits for orphaned students. Her NGO continues to work with IDPs and refugees providing them with emergency humanitarian, legal and financial assistance. Her organisation also provides psycho-social treatments for women and children who experienced violence including SGBV at the hands of ISIS and other criminal groups.



Sylvie Jacqueline Ndongmo is a teacher, a human rights defender, and a gender expert who has been active in civil society for the past 19 years.

Her expertise is in the area of human rights, gender and peace building. She has a BA in Bilingual Letters (English and French) from Yaounde University in Cameroon and a DIPTEFL (Diploma in the Teaching of English as a Foreign Language) from Moray House College of Education in Scotland. She is an African Women’s Leadership Institute AWLI Alumni (2008) and has attended numerous leadership trainings. Her work as a human rights activist started in 1996 when she joined the National Autonomous Teachers Trade Union (SNAES) to fight for better working conditions for teachers and better learning environment for pupils. She has held many posts in the Trade Union ranging from School section treasurer to National Coordinator of Female Teachers Trade Unions Committees. In 2001, she joined the Liberty and Human Rights League (LDL), an organisation that seeks to ensure that democratic principles are respected in Cameroon and to promote peaceful political transition through free and fair elections. Later, she founded and ran two organisations, Female Teachers League for Education (2004) and Women Peace Initiatives (2009). In 2012, she got in contact with WILPF and was fascinated by its work, and therefore applied to have a WILPF Section in Cameroon. Since January 2014, she has been the President of Women International League for Peace and Freedom in Cameroon (2014).