Standing with Feminist Movements in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA)

For more than five decades, WILPF has been standing firm beside women from the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region who are working to define, defend and develop a space for the advancement of peace, equality, justice and demilitarised security.

Our work in the region deepened significantly in 2011, as women assumed a pivotal role in advocating for peace and calling for social and political justice in the midst of unprecedented uprisings and political instability.

Since then, WILPF has been focusing on bringing together women’s rights activists and organisations from across the region and the political spectrum to advance vibrant feminist movements and contribute to a future of sustainable peace.


Women of the MENA region stand on the frontlines of the movement for peace, justice and human rights. Yet, despite the presence of established and growing feminist movements in the region, they continue to face numerous and complex challenges. These include:

  • Conflicts, arms proliferation, humanitarian crises and displacement, rooted in failed governance, war economies, securitisation and militarisation and politicisation of aid — all of which undermine women’s right to live in peace and dignity.
  • Patriarchal norms, violent masculinities and gender inequality continue to pressure women into subordinate and marginalised roles.
  • Exclusionary peace processes, marginalisation and trivialisation of women, as well as tokenistic inclusion perpetuated by stereotypical views of women’s political participation.
  • Shrinking civil society spaces in the region, make]ing it particularly challenging for women’s rights organisations and women-led organisations to engage visibly or critically.

However, despite all of these challenges, strong and diverse women-led, women’s rights and feminist peace organisations continue to persist in their goals and drive transformative change in contexts of conflict, occupation and displacement.

WILPF stands firmly with feminist and peace initiatives and their collective actions in the MENA region. Together, we strive to find localised solutions to interconnected challenges and make progress toward a future of feminist peace and justice.

What We Do

Resourcing feminist movements and agendas

Through a combination of flexible funding, tailored technical support and spaces for networking, coordination, and movement building, we seek to support organisations with feminist values and agendas to work towards their visions, while acknowledging their complex realities and diverse needs.

Recentring local intersectional feminist narratives

We work with our partners, feminist activists and experts to develop knowledge on the root causes of violence, as well as accessible feminist solutions from the region for the region (and beyond) in Arabic. Our goal is to ensure that feminist voices from the region, thematic positions, contributions and priorities are amplified, acknowledged and acted upon.

Claiming spaces in peace processes

We work with feminist activists to hold stakeholders accountable and advocate for more inclusive, participatory and diverse spaces for decision-making, governance structures and peace processes.



In the MENA region, WILPF has two Sections (WILPF Palestine and WILPF Lebanon), one group (Yemen Group) and over 40 civil society partners. We are also privileged to collaborate, think with, learn from and provide support to a wide network of activists and organisations.

Our partners in MENA include women leaders, women human rights defenders, women-led groups, grassroots feminist organisations, initiatives and networks, women’s rights organisations, community-based organisations, associations of professionals and non-governmental organisations and networks committed to the mission and values of WILPF.

Key Focus Areas

Our focus areas are driven by our partnership approach, which is firmly rooted in our principle of feminist solidarity. Our strategies and approaches are enriched by the wealth of information shared by our partners and are guided by their feminist analysis.

WILPF’s commitment to addressing regional challenges through a feminist lens is evident in our key focus areas:

Amplifying local analysis and solutions

At the heart of our mission is a commitment to amplify local voices and innovative solutions. Within this framework, we engage with our partners in local communities on critical issues, such as climate change and gender-based violence in conflict, emphasising gender-responsive solutions and addressing contextual challenges specific to the region.

Strengthening feminist movements for peace

We give priority to governance, mental health and safeguarding from a feminist perspective, employing our holistic resourcing approach to fortify feminist movements dedicated to peace.

Advocating for rights, accountability and justice

We place additional emphasis on human rights and transitional justice initiatives, employing analysis, advocacy endeavours and policy recommendations.

Reimagining the peace table

We leverage collective knowledge to advance feminist perspectives and advocate for meaningful inclusion of women in peace and security processes under the Women, Peace and Security (WPS) Agenda.

Our Impact

Amplifying Feminist Voices in Peace Processes

WILPF has played a pivotal role in amplifying and centring feminist voices, positions and priorities within both formal and informal peace and reconciliation processes in the MENA region.

Our approach involves engaging constructively with international bodies, such as the Human Rights Council, by submitting statements that support our partners’ efforts to advocate for their perspectives and recommendations in deliberations on peace and root causes of violence.

We have also facilitated partners’ briefings at the UN Security Council in key debates, such as the UNSC Open Debate on Sexual Violence in Conflict, or other country-specific debates on conflict resolution, such as on Syria, Libya or Palestine.

Furthermore, we have coordinated high-level private briefings with key stakeholders to support our partners in furthering their feminist agendas, and worked closely with them and other grassroots organisations to jointly submit Universal Periodic Review (UPR) reviews and contributions to the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW), among other human rights mechanisms.

In addition to engagements with UN-mandated mechanisms, WILPF also uses its communication channels to amplify partners’ analysis and work. A noteworthy achievement in our collaborative efforts to amplify feminist voices has been the development of the Feminist Peace Roadmap by our Yemeni partner organisation Peace Track Initiative (PTI). This roadmap represents a significant initiative where Yemeni women collectively outline a comprehensive strategy for shaping a future characterised by inclusive peace, justice and human security in Yemen.

Strengthening Feminist Movements through Collective Care and Safeguarding

WILPF continues to prioritise the well-being and resilience of our partners — and feminist activists in the region more generally — by offering psycho-social support (PSS) sessions led by regional psychological experts, specifically tailored to address our partners’ unique needs and challenges.

These sessions encompass vital topics such as combating burnout among service providers working with survivors of sexual violence, providing mental health support for staff operating in conflict-affected areas and addressing secondary trauma during testimonial collection.

Furthermore, webinars on topics such as accountability from an intersectional feminist approach, the culture of blame and responsibility, principles of ethical care and the politics of care from a feminist perspective, as well as empathy and the power of vulnerability were held. These discussions fed into and complement a comprehensive safeguarding toolkit focused on addressing safeguarding through protection, prevention, partnerships and prosecution.

We’ve taken innovative steps by adapting and expanding our comprehensive safeguarding toolkit into an interactive multimedia format in both English and Arabic, making such valuable resources more accessible and engaging for a wider audience. In 2023, partner and experts reflections on mental well-being and collective care were elaborated in a toolkit focused on promoting mental well-being and collective care in the workplace.

These initiatives underscore our ongoing commitment to nurturing mental and emotional resilience and promoting well-being within feminist movements.

Political Is Personal podcast— A Dialogue from and to The Mena Region

Each episode of this Arabic podcast series will take you on a journey of stories, facts and shocking realities, where you will learn about the challenges and accomplishments of women in MENA, as well as the amazing work done by feminists and feminist organisations in the region. We discuss personal, social and political issues within the framework of achieving sustainable feminist peace.

Revolutionising Resourcing for Feminist Peace

WILPF has introduced an innovative approach called the Holistic Feminist Resourcing Approach, aimed at moving away from traditional and ineffective top-down funding methods.

This approach emphasises flexible funding, tailored technical support and a diverse range of networking and coordination opportunities. It values partners’ needs, rejects conditionalities and bureaucracy often imposed by many donors and avoids imposing predetermined agendas on partner organisations that may not align with their unique needs and realities on the ground.

This holistic resourcing approach has proven effective in supporting feminist movement building in the region. One donor has even adopted our funding model — first implemented in Syria — for use in regional and global granting mechanisms, providing an opportunity to expand our approach to other contexts like Iraq and Yemen.

Creating a Hub of Localised Knowledge and Expertise

A pioneering initiative, WILPF’s MENA Hub is a continuously evolving resource providing accessible and contextually relevant feminist resources rooted in the unique dynamics of the MENA region.

The MENA Hub fills a critical void in feminist knowledge produced specifically in the Arabic language. It proudly champions the expertise and experiences of the formidable women driving grassroots feminist movements in MENA.

Offering an array of resources, including feminist guides, tools, videos, infographics and webinars, the MENA Hub is available in English and Arabic. This bilingual approach ensures accessibility beyond borders — amplifying the experiences of MENA women driving grassroots feminist movements, offering unwavering support for ongoing endeavours to advance feminist peace in MENA and allowing a wider audience to champion feminist practices and ideas emerging from the region.

Wait A Minute — Pause, Listen, Act

In a world saturated with numbers, headlines and stereotypes, Wait A Minute (Wait A Minute – لحظة شوي) is an opportunity to pause and immerse yourself in the unheard stories of women and girls in conflict-affected contexts across the MENA region. Their voices, often overshadowed, deserve your attention.

Related Materials



13 November 2023

إعلان اهتمام: توفير الموارد للمقاومة النسوية في منطقة الشرق الأوسط وشمال إفريقيا


10 November 2023

FAQ on Gaza and International Law

Meet the Team

Salma Kahale

Programme Director

Leen Alabed

Programme Director
leen.alabed (a)

Hager Sharief

Resourcing the Feminist Movement Manager
hager.sharief (a)

Saskia Binet

Project Coordinator
saskia.binet (a)

Sara Dominguez

Advocacy Coordinator
sara.dominguez (a)

Ilaf Nasreldin

Advocacy Coordinator
ilaf.nasreldin (a)

Nihad Kasmi

Programme Associate
nihad.kasmi (a)

Sally Shammas

Resourcing the Feminist Movement Associate
sally.shammas (a)

Céline Rabbat

Project Associate
celine.rabbat (a)  

Roberta Nardi

Administrative Associate
roberta.nardi (a)

Ahmad Amaireh

SIDA Associate ahmad.amaireh (a)

Maha Batran

MEL Advisor
amaha.batran (a)

Contact Us

Please feel free to contact WILPF’s MENA Team at if you have questions or suggestions about our work.

Your donation isn’t just a financial transaction; it’s a step toward a more compassionate and equitable world. With your support, we’re poised to achieve lasting change that echoes through generations. Thank you!

Thank you!

Melissa Torres


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


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


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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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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