Caritas Africa Entity Advocates for More Women Religious in Catholic Continental Body

Sr. Regina Ignatia Aflah, HDR. Credit: Courtesy Photo

An official of the Caritas Africa Women Task Force Committee (CAWTFC) has expressed concern over a limited representation of women Religious in Caritas Africa.

In an interview with ACI Africa, CAWTFC Coordinator, Sr. Regina Ignatia Aflah, called upon Catholic Bishops and those at the helm of women Religious Orders to foster the recruitment of women Religious in Caritas Africa.

“Out of 46 member organizations on the continent, there are only eight women Religious Caritas Africa Coordinators,” Sr. Aflah said, and added, “Our goal is to see more women Religious taking up leadership roles within Caritas Africa.”

The member of the Congregation of the Handmaid of the Divine Redeemer (HDR) revealed that plans were underway to reach out to Catholic Bishops in the course of the year “Across Africa” to advocate for more representation of women Religious in Caritas Africa.

“We plan to have meetings with Bishops from across Africa throughout the year, to ask them to promote women's religious participation in leadership and decision-making,” the CAWTFC Coordinator told ACI Africa during the March 8 interview.


The Committee she coordinates, Sr. Aflah said, “recently met with the Bishops of Congo Brazzaville to address the participation of women Religious in the confederation.”

“14 Bishops together with the Caritas Coordinator were present at the meeting in Brazzaville last month. Among the topics discussed at the meeting was the low participation of women Religious in decision making positions,” she recalled. 

Sr. Aflah added, “The failure of our own brother Priests to accept women Religious into leadership positions is an issue that was raised during the meeting.”

“The Bishops also highlighted the issue of women Religious being constantly on the move. In some cases, women Religious who are appointed to certain leadership roles are often moved to other cities or countries,” she said, and added, “Promoting women religious in Africa is very difficult, but we believe that through meetings with the Bishops, we can go far.”

The Ghanaian-born Catholic Nun who is a member of Caritas Internationalis Committee for Women’s Leadership, Equality and Participation lamented the fact that some Religious Orders in Africa “don’t allow” their members to take up leadership roles in Caritas.  

More in Africa

“Caritas Africa through the Women Taskforce project aims to build dialogue on the promotion of women’s leadership, equality and participation in the Confederation,” Sr. Aflah told ACI Africa on the annual event of the International Women’s Day (IWD), March 8.

She continued in reference to women Religious in Africa, “We need to continue to advocate, we need to continue to showcase, we need to continue to market ourselves and tell the world that we are capable.”

“People are still struggling to accept that women can be given leadership positions, or they can be given the chance to exhibit their expertise in leadership positions,” Sr. Aflah who previously spearheaded interventions to vulnerable populations in her native country of Ghana told ACI Africa March 8.

The HDR member expressed hope for a better future saying, “A time will come when the Church has no choice but to include more women Religious in leadership.” 

Sheila Pires is a veteran radio and television Mozambican journalist based in South Africa. She studied communications at the University of South Africa. She is passionate about writing on the works of the Church through Catholic journalism.