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WILPF Africa Regional Conference 2021: A Recap

Between 13 and 14 November 2021, WILPF Sections and Groups across the African continent came together in a hybrid regional conference that combined physical meetings on the national level with virtual dialogues on a regional scale. The conference included a rich agenda of presentations, group exercises, and discussions. 

Image credit: WILPF Niger
WILPF International Secretariat
17 March 2022

“Solidarity strengthens resistance struggle. There can be no mass-based feminist movement to end sexist oppres­sion without a united front–women must take the initiative and demonstrate the power of solidarity. Unless we can show that barriers separating women can be eliminated, that solidarity can exist, we cannot hope to change and transform society as a whole.”

These words, written by bell hooks in her 1984 seminal work “Feminist Theory: From Margin to Center”, perfectly encapsulate the significance of the 2021 WILPF Africa Regional Conference – which can only be described as a pioneering exercise in successful cross-border solidarity.

The hybrid conference took place over the course of two days, from 13 to 14 November 2021, and combined physical gatherings on the national level with virtual presentations and discussions that transcended borders. 

This cross-border event – which was organised by WILPF Sweden and WILPF’s Regional Representative for Africa, Sylvie Jacqueline Ndongmo – hosted WILPF Sections, Groups, and emerging Groups from Burkina Faso, Burundi, Cameroon, the Central African Republic (CAR), Chad, Côte d’Ivoire, the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), Ghana, Guinea, Kenya, Niger, Nigeria, Senegal, Sierra Leone, South Africa, Togo, Uganda, and Zimbabwe. In total, 392 feminist organisers and activists joined one another over the course of the conference, and took the opportunity to get more intimately acquainted with WILPF, with WILPF’s current programmes, and with one another.

The rich conference programme included sessions on the future of WILPF; disarmament; militarised masculinities; Women, Peace and Security; feminist political economy; and monitoring, evaluation, and learning. Through these sessions, participants gained insight into WILPF’s thematic work and participated in group exercises and discussions, which explored how this thematic work is (or can be) implemented locally. 

Sections and Groups also presented an overview of their achievements at the conference, and bonded over shared experiences. Through this event, participants were able to take stock of how much WILPF Africa has evolved, grown, and gained strength despite difficult national contexts. Through different thematic sessions, participants shared their national experiences and challenges while learning about the work conducted by other Sections and Groups, which will no doubt improve the national implementation of WILPF projects across the continent. 

The conference also evoked notions of pan-African solidarity among participants, who were reminded that their interests are largely the same. Indeed, one of the key takeaways was that there is a lot to be gained from collaborating effectively on a regional level. When sharing their concluding reflections on the future of WILPF in Africa, Sections and Groups affirmed their commitment to collaborate on regional issues through collective advocacy and awareness-raising campaigns. Common regional interests include addressing climate change (and its effects on the livelihoods of African women), inequitable financial policies, militarised masculinities, autonomous weapons, arms trade and proliferation, and governance reform. 

The conference was a true accomplishment, both in size and organisation, and it would not have been possible without the selfless efforts of WILPF’s Sections and Groups, who dedicated their time, energy, and resources to ensure the conference was a success. This success also attests to the tireless work that Sections and Groups have conducted across the continent and over the years, despite difficult national contexts.

As a whole, the 2021 Africa Regional Conference was an irrefutable demonstration of the strength, resilience, and creativity of feminist sisterhood in Africa. This sisterhood, as hooks would describe it, is both “an expression of political solidarity”, and “a revolutionary accomplishment.”

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WILPF International Secretariat

WILPF is a worldwide non-governmental organisation dedicated to bringing together women from around the world who are united in working for peace. Our approach is always non-violent, and we use existing international legal and political frameworks to achieve fundamental change in the way states conceptualise and address issues of gender, militarism, peace, and security.

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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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