Our story

The African Network of Women Shelters is a continent-wide organization with membership drawn from across Africa. The ANWS came into being in February 2012 following a resolution by the African Caucus during the 2nd World Conference on Women Shelters held in Washington DC. The ANWS is an affiliate of the Global Network of Women Shelters (GNWS).

Violence against women and girls (VAW & G) in Africa is a major obstacle to their attaining equality, development and peace, and prevents women from enjoying their human rights and fundamental freedoms and a life of dignity, free from oppression. Many women want to escape the violence and find refuge and safety because their homes or communities are unsafe. They seek safety and peace by going to safe spaces, such as shelters, refuges, women’s centres, or transition homes, to seek peace and safety.

The ANWS aims to ensure availability of women’s centres and safe spaces across Africa, as well as raise awareness about women’s rights and their right to be free from violence


An Africa where women and girls are free from all forms of violence


Uniting to advocate for policy transformation to end VAWG and provision of shelters, safe spaces and holistic services for women and girls in Africa


  • To advocate for the provision of women shelters and safe spaces as a response to violence against women and girls
  • To provide a platform for learning, reflection and experience sharing on violence against women and girls, safe spaces and shelters across Africa
  • To provide reliable information and data on violence against women and girls as well as shelters and safe spaces in Africa
  • To establish partnerships and collaborate with communities, governments and other stakeholders

Guiding Principles and Core Values

  • Governments and societies are responsible for ensuring women’s human rights.
  • Violence violates women’s human rights and equality.
  • The women’s shelter movement plays a critical leadership role in the local, regional and global effort to end violence against women and their children.
  • We recognize that women and their children can experience multiple forms of violence and oppression.
  • Our work is guided by the diverse experiences of violence and oppression faced by women and their children.
  • Perpetrators must be held accountable for their violence, though also encouraging dialogue and healing, as well as reconciliation and rehabilitation of the perpetrators.
  • We recognize that violence against women is a manifestation of historically unequal power relations between men and women which perpetuates violence and discrimination against women and their children.
  • Our work is guided by the United Nations Declaration on the Elimination of Violence Against Women.
  • We work to advance women’s leadership in the global movement to end violence against women.
  • Our core values are consistent with feminist values and include: accessibility; autonomy; dignity; respect; empowerment; equality and equity; inclusiveness; integrity; safety; solidarity; and transparency.


Women and Children helped


Shelters across Africa


Africa Conferences held


Africa Countries in ANWS

Help us put an end to VAWG

No matter how old you are, where you live, or what you can give, you can help end the VAWG crisis — and you can start right now!