Middle East and North Africa (MENA)

Despite the growing feminist movement across the Middle East and North Africa (MENA), the region continues to face varying levels of political uncertainty, cross-border insecurities, and failure of the rule of law. Many of these challenges are a result of the authoritarian regimes, occupations, and conflicts that followed peaceful uprisings demanding change in the region, which began in 2011.

Under these circumstances, women – who stand at the frontline of the movement for peace, justice, and human rights – encounter multifaceted barriers to meaningful participation in conflict prevention, resolution, and post-conflict transition.

Moreover, violence in all its forms, including gender-based and sexual violence, threatens women’s safety and security now more than ever. Violence impacting the lives and livelihoods of women is perpetuated by militarisation, increased defense spending, and the global arms trade – all of which violate human rights and create human insecurity across the region. 

WILPF in MENA

WILPF has been present in the Middle East and North Africa region for over 50 years. Our work in the region deepened significantly in 2011 as women’s groups began playing an increasingly central role in demanding peace in the midst of unprecedented political events. 

WILPF is standing firm beside women from the Middle East and North Africa who are defining, defending, and developing a space for the advancement of feminist peace and a future of equality, justice, and demilitarised security in the region.

Our work in MENA is focused on bringing together women’s rights activists and organisations from across the region to work for peace by non-violent means. 

We are also committed to promoting political, economic, and social justice by resourcing the feminist movement, and by leveraging cross-conflict learnings, advocacy, feminist analysis of conflict, and feminist knowledge production in Arabic. 

A woman is speaking in a panel during WILPF regional convening 2006
WILPF MENA convening 2017

Partners in MENA

WILPF’s partners in MENA comprise a group of civil society organisations and a wider network of activists and organisations that WILPF thinks and collaborates with, learns from, and provides support to. 

WILPF currently has been engaged in several MENA countries, including Egypt, Iraq, Lebanon, Libya, Palestine, Syria, and Yemen, in addition to an active network of activists and organisations with whom we continue to engage and exchange experiences.

Political Is personal Podcast Cover

Political is Personal – A dialogue from and to the region

The Arabic podcast series “Political Is Personal” seeks to highlight the work done by both feminists and feminist organisations in the MENA region. We want to amplify their messages, while shedding light on important issues relevant to feminist peace from a gender-sensitive perspective.

Online Violence Against Women in the MENA Region: ‘I have the right to be safe’

Women of Palestine: Life under Occupation and Decades of Feminist Movement

Personal and Politcal Experience of Women's Meaningful Participation in Syria

The crisis of statelessness in the Syrian context — my nationality is a right for me and my children

Projects in MENA

Webinars

Latest Updates

 
Workplace Safeguarding in the MENA Context

Melissa Torres

VICE-PRESIDENT

Prior to being elected Vice-President, Melissa Torres was the WILPF US International Board Member from 2015 to 2018. Melissa joined WILPF in 2011 when she was selected as a Delegate to the Commission on the Status of Women as part of the WILPF US’ Practicum in Advocacy Programme at the United Nations, which she later led. She holds a PhD in Social Work and is a professor and Global Health Scholar at Baylor College of Medicine and research lead at BCM Anti-Human Trafficking Program. Of Mexican descent and a native of the US/Mexico border, Melissa is mostly concerned with the protection of displaced Latinxs in the Americas. Her work includes training, research, and service provision with the American Red Cross, the National Human Trafficking Training and Technical Assistance Centre, and refugee resettlement programs in the U.S. Some of her goals as Vice-President are to highlight intersectionality and increase diversity by fostering inclusive spaces for mentorship and leadership. She also contributes to WILPF’s emerging work on the topic of displacement and migration.

Jamila Afghani

VICE-PRESIDENT

Jamila Afghani is the President of WILPF Afghanistan which she started in 2015. She is also an active member and founder of several organisations including the Noor Educational and Capacity Development Organisation (NECDO). Elected in 2018 as South Asia Regional Representative to WILPF’s International Board, WILPF benefits from Jamila’s work experience in education, migration, gender, including gender-based violence and democratic governance in post-conflict and transitional countries.

Sylvie Jacqueline Ndongmo

PRESIDENT

Sylvie Jacqueline NDONGMO 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.

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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