Peripheral and Gender Perspectives: The Russia-Ukraine War and Africa’s Response and Impact

Osman Antwi-Boateng, Mohammed Huwaishel Al Nuaimi

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Following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, most African countries avoided open alignment with either Russia or Ukraine, favoring a wait-and-see approach until the situation’s consequences for African households, energy security, and the agricultural sector became more evident. Using the nexus between world systems and dependency theories as an analytical tool, this study examines how African governments have responded to the Russian invasion of Ukraine and how the continent has been affected by the war. This examination is accomplished via a qualitative analysis of primary data such as reports issued by independent international organizations, think tanks, and media houses. Furthermore, the analysis is complemented by secondary sources such as media reports and expert crisis analysis. This study argues that although Africa as a continent and African women in particular, by virtue of occupying the periphery of world politics, have been marginalized in decision-making regarding the war, they have nevertheless been negatively impacted by the war. Lacking agency in world affairs, the continent has responded to the war in a disjointed way without considering the voices and input of African women, who are increasingly bearing the brunt of the global impact of the war. Consequently, Africa, led by patriarchal leadership via the African Union (AU), has struggled to abide by its continental charter principles of noninterference and remain committed to its tradition of nonalignment in international affairs. The continent has not been impervious to the negative impact of the conflict because of its structural dependence on countries in the global core. Politically, the war has resulted in further marginalization of the continent and its women due to the continent’s lack of agency. Economically, the conflict has led to rising energy costs, inflation, and food insecurity, all of which disproportionately affect African women. Socially, the conflict has disrupted the academic life of African students in Ukraine, with women students particularly vulnerable to gender-based violence. The research calls for the inclusion of more African women’s voices in decision-making at the AU, as African women and girls bear the brunt of most global crises such as war.

Original languageEnglish
Article number9
JournalJournal of International Women's Studies
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - Aug 2023


  • African Union
  • African women
  • Gender-based violence (GBV)
  • Periphery-core theory
  • Russia–Ukraine War

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Gender Studies


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