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Welcome To New National Group WILPF Zimbabwe!

11 November 2016
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The flag of the Republic of Zimbabwe (right) flying at United Nations headquarters in New York. Photo credit: UN.

We are delighted to announce the recent creation of a new national group: WILPF Zimbabwe.

Former British colony, today the Republic of Zimbabwe has a population of 13 million people and a life expectancy of 54 years.

Yet the economic situation is very challenging, facing high rates of unemployment, impoverishment and inflation.

Although Zimbabwe remains in peace since its independence in 1980, the country was involved in the war in Democratic Republic of Congo until 2003.

Zimbabwe, on the other hand, has been repeatedly accused of violating women’s rights among other abuses and atrocities against human rights, committed under the administration of Mugabe (in power since 1980).

For this reason, WILPF Zimbabwe Group will strive to support women’s meaningful participation to build a sustainable culture of peace and democracy through the establishment of a solid footing in lobby, advocacy and campaign initiatives.

We reached out to the group’s lead, Edwick Madzimure, to get to know more about the present and the future of this new national group.

What was the main reason to become part of WILPF family?

We are women and such we are directly affected by the gender based injustices that are faced by most women. Hence it is important that we are affiliated to a women’s organisation whose core value is peace. Coming from Zimbabwe, a developing state has made us first hand recipients of the challenges that are encountered by every typical women in the developing and developed states. These challenges are domestic violence, rape, child marriages, inheritance, poor representation of women in the political and economic sectors, there is need for women empowerment and involvement in peace building. There is gross violation of human rights yet there is no women organisation that is affiliated with international women’s organisations that is focused on improving the presentation of women.

Therefore to us being part of WILPF will give us a platform to improve women lives in all spheres.

In what ways do you believe that WILPF Zimbabwe group will make a difference in addressing the root causes of conflict and injustice in communities around the country?

As a WILPF Group we would unite women from various political, economic and social backgrounds and work towards the realisation of peaceful conflict resolutions methods. We would do this through holding awareness campaigns, taking part in special days for women giving presentations, participating in the country’s public forums giving emphasis on peace, through educating women and girls from all communities and background on the importance of peace building at household level, community, society and the nation at large.

Women are always on the sidelines and treated as inferior. To this effect WILPF Zimbabwe Group will also embark on empowerment projects for women and educate the nation on the importance of educating the girl child and giving her equal opportunity with her male counter part.

What difficulties have you faced up until now and what challenges do you believe that WILPF Zimbabwe group will experience in the future?

In our country for us to be able to start carrying out activities we must register as a Private Voluntary Organisation and it is a long process which requires money to travel to various offices that are not in our district and processing the necessary paperwork.

It is important to note that financial constraints are the major challenges that we are also going to face, our country is facing a major economic crisis so it is very difficult for us to have donors locally in order for us to carry out various activities. We are a group of women who share the common goal of ensuring sustainable peace and the emancipation of women from all spheres of life but in order for us to reach out to women nationwide we need resources hence lack of resources is the challenge that we feel we will encounter. We are very passionate and have a zeal in reaching greater heights and seeing an improvement in women’s lives.

What are WILPF Zimbabwe group’s main aims for the upcoming year and do you hope to achieve?

We intend to create an environment that women can come and get help on various issues affecting them. For instance, in our country the abuse of women is common (i.e. rape, child marriages and domestic violence). Most women suffer in silence because they do not know to how handle these issues.

We also want to start women empowerment projects so as to get rid of the over dependence of women on men that usually creates room for them to be abused. We would want to start educational campaigns where we gather women from all backgrounds and educate them on the importance of peaceful conflict resolution strategies and why peace is necessary. We also intend to work closely with other organisations that are into peace advocacy so as to come up with peaceful societies.

Read more on how to create a WILPF National Group step by step.

 

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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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