Latest News

Women in National Dialogues and Constitutional Process in the MENA Region

9 April 2014

On March 25th, WILPF organised a side-event during the Human Rights Council 25th session to discuss women participation in the constitutional reform processes at the MENA region.

The event involved women leaders from Tunisia, Libya and Yemen sharing their experiences, lessons learned and recommendations on participating in the constitutional processes and national dialogues in their respective countries.

The event engaged members from permanent missions, NGOs, stakeholders, and was chaired by Madeleine Rees, Secretary General of WILPF International.

Gender and State-building

Zahra Langhi, Co-funder of Libyan Women Platform for Peace, spoke about the gender dynamics and state building in Libya. Langhi advocated better inclusion of women and described the challenges they face due to intensive militarisation, as well as the absence of a comprehensive implementation of transitional justice and lack of gender sensitive law enforcement mechanisms.

Langhi called for prioritising women, peace and security challenges when addressing Libya’s critical transition by integrating the matters highlighted by women groups into the constitutional process and thus on Libya’s road map within a larger process of national dialogue.

“It is time women move from calling for numerical representation in the already existing political systems into shaping a new discourse on the politics of inclusion with new values of governance.”    Zahra Langhi

She also highlighted that women’s rights and security might be compromised for a quick and underprepared constitution-drafting process, while an inclusive national dialogue will give the space for civil society and women groups to set guidelines to insure protection, inclusion and equality.

She stressed the need for paradigm shift from a women empowerment approach into an inclusive, participatory, gender equitable approach. Only a holistic vision of gender equality will result in a meaningful participation of women in the political process.

Drafting of the new constitution

Radhia Ben Haj Zekri, the Former President and co-funder of Association of Tunisian Women for Research and Development (AFTURD), presented the Tunisian experience in drafting the new constitution. She highlighted the main role of women in the transitional period in Tunisia, and explained the manner in which voting took place to ensure that the new constitution included provisions on citizenship, equality, human rights, women rights and accountability.

Zekri stressed the importance of monitoring the implementation of the institute as well as integrating women’s rights and a gender analysis in shaping the security agenda in Tunisia.

She also highlighted the importance of economic empowerment of women and working to fix the big gender gap in the provision of education and minimise it by taking clear measure to decrease girls drop out of school.

Zekri accredited the common base that was created through the constitution towards solving these problems and enhancing the status of women in public and private spheres.

National Dialogue

Amal Basha, the Chairperson of Sisters Arab Forum for Human Rights, presented the lessons learned from the Yemen national dialogue process. Basha spoke about women participation in the national dialogue advocating equality and human rights and explained the process in which a 30% quota for women was achieved in all legislative, executive and judicial powers.

Basha said that we should capitalise on the positive participation of women in the national dialogue conference and their input to the thematic discussion on the functions of a civil state. However this can only be maintained by working towards full implementation of the national dialogue outcome and ensuring that the new constitution includes clauses to safeguard women’s rights and full participation in decision making.

“Before the revolution women were not seen, not hear, and not noticed but now the future is our… it gave us the chance to coordinate and continue.” Amal Basha

Basha stressed the importance of holding international institutions accountable for the resources they put in Yemen and monitoring that they apply a strict human rights and gender policy to all projects, employees and beneficiaries.

Further discussion on the role of social media in the transition period took place, Langhi said that social media was helpful in transferring young voices during the transition and as a result, this medium continues to empower women’s human rights.


Share the post

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

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit. Mauris facilisis luctus rhoncus. Praesent eget tellus sit amet enim consectetur condimentum et vel ante. Nulla facilisi. Suspendisse et nunc sem. Vivamus ullamcorper vestibulum neque, a interdum nisl accumsan ac. Cras ut condimentum turpis. Vestibulum ante ipsum primis in faucibus orci luctus et ultrices posuere cubilia curae; Curabitur efficitur gravida ipsum, quis ultricies erat iaculis pellentesque. Nulla congue iaculis feugiat. Suspendisse euismod congue ultricies. Sed blandit neque in libero ultricies aliquam. Donec euismod eget diam vitae vehicula. Fusce hendrerit purus leo. Aenean malesuada, ante eu aliquet mollis, diam erat suscipit eros, in.


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.

Skip to content