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Africa in the Spotlight: WILPF Regional Meeting in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC)

19 December 2017

Representatives of WILPF Sections and Groups from the African region, as well as of WILPF International and WILPF Sweden travelled to DRC for an important regional meeting organised back-to-back with WILPF DRC’s 10-year anniversary. The meeting represented a significant forum for discussion as WILPF prepares to host its first Congress on the African continent.

Representatives from WILPF Sections and Groups attending the African Regional Meeting in Kinshasa (DRC)

The second WILPF African regional meeting of the year took place in Kinshasa from 2 to 3 December 2017. It gathered the brave, bold, and brilliant women of WILPF Sections from Cameroon, Ghana, Nigeria, the DRC, WILPF Groups from Burundi, Uganda and Zimbabwe, and the representatives of the emerging groups from South Africa and the Central African Republic (CAR). WILPF Sweden, as well as WILPF International (Geneva and New York) were also attending.

Global outlook, local engagements

At 100+ WILPF is growing and keeps on bringing women together to discuss and strategise how to drive fundamental change and lay the foundations of lasting peace. In particular, the past decade has seen WILPF’s movement for feminist peace steadily expanding within the African region, with WILPF Sections and Groups becoming more and more active, as they carry out flagship initiatives like the Women Situation’s Room and develop advocacy strategies to ensure accountability for the respect of women’s rights through UN mechanisms.

During the regional meeting, WILPFers from the African region highlighted how they are working together toward a dream of feminist peace. They shared, explored and discussed how to build awareness, change laws, norms, and attitudes to uphold women’s rights as human rights. For instance, WILPF Zimbabwe Group is engaging traditional leaders to change perceptions about traditional women’s roles in communities, WILPF Ghana is working with youth on peace education, and WILPF Uganda Group has been working on sensitising women on sustainable peace in the “Luwero Triangle” area.

“It was my first time attending a WILPF regional meeting and it has helped me to see the breadth of the organisation, to see that everyone, no matter where from, is involved in WILPF’s mission” (impression from a WILPF member from WILPF DRC)

The meeting was an excellent opportunity for Sections and Groups to exchange on their progress, share good practices but also to set in motion future collaborations. For instance, Sections and Groups had the chance to discuss how to expand their mapping for the implementation of the Women, Peace and Security Agenda as a basis for supporting actions and advocacy at the local and global level.

The meeting underlined the need to strengthen even more this regional cooperation and to sustain the creation and flourishing of new groups.

We are stronger together!

Regional meetings contribute to strengthening members’ skills, articulating new visions and amplifying the bonds of solidarity. In her welcome address, Annie Matundu, President of WILPF DRC, echoed this spirit as she recalled the volatile situation that the DRC is currently facing and thanked each participant for coming to the DRC despite the security situation.

“We have been pleased by the solidarity of the other WILPFers that have accepted to come to DRC during this period of uncertainty for our country” (impression from a WILPF member from WILPF DRC)

Annie Matundu Mbambi (President of WILPF DRC) and Sylvie Jacqueline Ndongmo (President of WILPF Cameroon)

It has been particularly inspiring to see feminist pacifist solidarity in action between WILPF African Sections and groups.Take WILPF Cameroon who technically led the creation of Cameroon’s first National Action Plan for the implementation of the UN Security Council Resolution 1325. This achievement was the result of the mentorship that they received from WILPF DRC, and in particular from Annie Matundu Mbambi (President of WILPF DRC), who actively supported the project and travelled to Cameroon to celebrate this success.

WILPF DRC’s leadership has also sparked movements across Africa through the creation of new WILPF Sections and Groups in the region. As the representative of the emerging group in the Central African Republic said:

“Working with WILPF Cameroon and WILPF DRC has given us two crutches to lean on.”

This strong message will bring us to Africa again. In August 2018 WILPF will have a historic convening of WILPF members in Accra (Ghana) when WILPFers and other leading peace advocates from around the world will gather for WILPF’s 32rd International Congress.

See more photos of the regional meeting in DRC.

 

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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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Demilitarisation

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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