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Press release: Report revealing impacts of failed COVID-19 responses on women in the MENA region

A groundbreaking new report revealing the extensive impacts of failed government and international responses to COVID-19 on women and the feminist peace agenda in the MENA region is scheduled for release on Wednesday, 28 October.

Image credit: WILPF
WILPF International Secretariat
28 October 2020

Read this in Arabic.

Report revealing impacts of failed COVID-19 responses on women in the MENA region set for release

A groundbreaking new report revealing the extensive impacts of failed government and international responses to COVID-19 on women and the feminist peace agenda in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region is scheduled for release on Wednesday, 28 October.

Developed by the Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom (WILPF), the report examines the structural oversights and failures of governments across the MENA region to address the disproportionate impact of the pandemic on women and feminist organisations. It also provides an analysis of the root causes of pre-existing challenges in MENA countries that have been exacerbated by COVID-19.

Highlighting the voices of women activists working in Egypt, Iraq (including Kurdistan Region of Iraq), Lebanon, Palestine, Libya, Syria, and Yemen, the report’s findings include:

● Feminist and gender-related issues in MENA countries are being sidelined while key issues impacting women – such as domestic violence and economic vulnerability – are being exacerbated.
● Highly securitised responses to the pandemic and limited access to technology are forcing spaces for feminist discourse and community organising to shrink or disappear.
● Donor funding for feminist causes in the MENA region is diminishing due to shifting donor priorities and the global economic crisis.

The report also offers a series of recommendations to stabilise and advance the progress of feminist organisations in the MENA region.

COVID-19 and Gender Justice: Feminists in MENA Defying Global Structural Failure will be officially released at a free virtual event taking place on Wednesday, 28 October. All are welcome to attend.

Report release event details:
Date: 28 October 2020
Time: 14:00–15:30 CET | 15:00–16:30 Beirut time | 9:00 – 10:30 EDT
Place: Via Zoom and live streamed on Facebook
Language: English and Arabic

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WILPF International Secretariat

WILPF International Secretariat, with offices in Geneva and New York, liaises with the International Board and the National Sections and Groups for the implementation of WILPF International Programme, resolutions and policies as adopted by the International Congress. Under the direction of the Secretary-General, the Secretariat also provides support in areas of advocacy, communications, and financial operations.

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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