Voices of African Women (VoAW) is a UK WILPF campaign which is led by diaspora African women.

VoAW delegates at WILPF's 2015 centenary Congress

VoAW UK delegates at WILPF’s 2015 centenary Congress

The work of V0AW developed from listening to the issues that diaspora, refugee and immigrant African women were raising in the UK, and joining together to raise our voices at the UK national and at international levels.

The VoAW campaign works within the campaigning framework of WILPF International:

  • Peace Women
  • United Nations Security Council Resolution 1325 (UNSCR 1325) and related legislation
  • The Maputo Protocol and the Rights of Women in Africa
  • We monitor submissions to the United Nations Human Rights Council and presentations made at the United Nations Commission on the Status of Women
  • We campaign around the WILPF Reaching Critical Will (RCW) disarmament programme by monitoring and supporting the Arms Trade Treaty process and raising awareness of the root causes and consequences of armed conflict in Africa.

Our demands of the United Kingdom and African governments include:

  • An end to support for oppressive regimes and a call for effective governance by African governments
  • An end to the proliferation of small arms, light weapons and foreign military bases on African soil
  • Implementation of UN SCR 1325 and UN SCR 1820 ‘Women, Peace and Security’
  • Action to end sexual violence in armed conflict
  • National Consultations with civil society women’s organisations before the national laws of African countries affecting women are passed
  • An end to the exploitation of African natural resources by multinational corporations and the role this plays in fuelling armed conflict and the destruction of our environmental and ecosystems
  • Supply of and improvement to healthcare and educations provision
  • Implementation of legal frameworks for the rights and participation of women
Marie-Lyse Numuhoza with newly unveiled statue of WILPF founder, Aletta Jacobs. Centenary Congress, 1915

Marie-Lyse Numuhoza with newly unveiled statue of WILPF founder, Aletta Jacobs. Centenary Congress, 2015

 

Summer – Autumn 2017 Voices of African Women Projects

 

Human Rights exchange and training

 

In May, VoAW invited Blen Diriba, a young Ethiopian human rights lawyer, to come to London from Addis Ababa to share her knowledge and understanding of conditions for women and children in Ethiopia with WILPF and other NGO groups in the UK.  In addition to talking to meetings, we organised a programme of training for Blen, and over five months, she has learnt about the work of UK based NGOs and how we go about advocacy and lobbying.  She undertook research with Make Every Woman Count and wrote reports and background papers.  WILPF was able to arrange a meeting in Parliament with the Chair of the All Party Parliamentary Group on Ethiopia and Djibouti when, with the support of colleagues, Blen was able to make a carefully researched presentation about Ethiopia.

The London United Nations Association Trust and the WILPF Trust helped to pay Blen’s fares and Keyet Makonnen has generously hosted her stay in London.  Blen already has women interested in establishing a WILPF Group in Addis Ababa when she returns.

 

Voices of Refugee Women

 

VoAW have been closely involved in UK WILPF’s Voices of Refugee Women Autumn project.  We have been contacting refugee women from our communities to tell their stories at our Autumn Seminar on 25th November.  Some of our women are writing about their experiences for social media and to reproduce in a booklet of Voices of Refugee Women.  We encourage everyone to join us at Salvation Army Hall, 70 Mare Street London E8 4RT 11am – 4 pm on Sat 25th November.

 

VoAW Worldwide

 

Our diaspora African women members are settled in the UK from a dozen different countries. They are active in their communities in Sudanese Mothers for Peace, Voice of Somali Women’s Movement, Network of Eritrean Women, Voice of Darfur Women and Common Cause UK (a platform of D.R. Congolese Women).  This year Marie Claire Faray has been working in Kinshasa with groups of men and women on a new approach promoting human rights for a Gender Cohesion which has been very well-received in a patriarchal society.

 

The VoAW meet regularly in London – want to join us?

Contact ukwilpf.peace@gmail.com and we’ll get back to you.