The Gibran Chair has won an award to promote women’s leadership and gender inclusive policies in the Middle East and North Africa. Women as Partners in Progress (WPP) works with women leaders— both established and emerging—to help them amplify their voice on issues important to them. The U.S. Middle East Partnership Initiative (MEPI) at the U.S. State Department funds this two-year project that began in October 2017. WPP is located in the Gibran Chair’s new International Development Program, a complementary project to the longer standing Academic Program.
(NOVEMBER 1, 2017) Arab women in the Middle East know what they need and what needs to change. With a collective voice, they are making progress across the region. In support of Arab women’s initiatives, WPP has partnered with three organizations in the three regions of the Middle East. In Morocco in the Maghreb, we partner with Joussour; in Jordan in the Levant, with World of Letters; and in Kuwait in the Gulf, with Abolish Article 153.
WPP is unique in its starting point: we begin with a gender analysis that synthesizes research on women in the Arab World and specifically in Morocco, Jordan, and Kuwait. In each country, we will hold a Knowledge Seminar with 30 selected established and emerging women leaders who use this research to identify priority issues in their country that they wish to work on together. The second unique feature is that WPP, with our local partners, support these women in their choice of the two or three issues they want to work on together. With us, they develop a strategy and action plan for this collaborative work. To further support their work, WPP designs and facilitates a Leadership Training workshop in strategic decision-making and results-oriented alliances. As progress unfolds, WPP and local partners work with the women to design and carry out social mobilization campaigns. A campaign may include TV and radio interviews; posting on forums, blogs, Facebook; talks at conferences and universities; meetings with government ministers, business leaders, NGOs and other influential people; and developing and placing social marketing messages to address mindsets as well as policy.
The women leaders and allies who worked with them will gather in Jordan in September 2019 to forge a broader network to promote women’s issues—a network that can include men and women government officials, NGOs, community leaders, national leaders, media, policymakers, and private sector decision makers. In their ongoing work together they will be supported by WPP’s virtual hub with its interactive platform and resources.
Tweets from our partners: Abolish Article 153, and Mayyada Abu Jaber, CEO and Founder of World of Letters.
By project end in September 2019, WPP expects that 90 Arab women leaders and their allies will have changed mindsets and have influenced policy related to gender roles and women’s rights through their strategic actions on chosen research-driven strategies in their own country and the region.
About our partners:
Jossour FFM (Morocco):
One of the main objectives of Jossour FFM is to preserve the gains and strengthen the rights of women by carrying out advocacy and outreach activities. In the proximity section, the sessions of the Moroccan Women's Citizenship Center aim to facilitate and promote women's knowledge by giving them the opportunity to learn more about their rights and duties. The advocacy component stems from the work done in collaboration with the political authorities in order to advance women's rights effectively and generally. Jossour has drawn up numerous petition memoranda concerning the Family Code addressed to the Royal Cabinet, the Royal Commission in charge of the elaboration of the new Family Code, the government and various political parties. Jossour FFM is also a founding member of the "Spring of Dignity" network for the revision of the penal code.
Group photo from the WPP Knowledge Seminar in Rabat Morocco (December 2017)
World of Letters (Jordan):
The World of Letters was founded in 2006 as a company with the driving force to work towards equity for a just world realized by bridging the education, economic and opportunity divide in our region. We assist governments and organizations in improving the quality of their education system through innovative, contextualize and multi-disciplinary curricula in the Arabic language as well as training programs. We empower youth to maximize achievements by providing work-ethics training and demand-driven job-placement programs. We work with local communities and relevant stakeholders to overcome gender-imbalances in the economy, fostering dignity, pride and equity among youth in the Arab world.
Group photo from the WPP Knowledge Seminar in Amman Jordan (March 2018)
Abolish 153 (Kuwait):
Abolish 153 is a campaign that aims to abolish article 153 from Kuwait’s penal code, which effectively gives men regulatory, judicial and executive power over their female kin in blatant disregard of the constitution, international agreements on human and women’s rights and even the Islamic Sharia.
This law states that any man who surprises his mother, sister, daughter or wife in an unsavory sexual (zinna) act with a man and kills her or him or both will be treated as committing a misdemeanor punishable by a maximum of 3 years jail time and/or a fine of 3000 rupees (KD 14).
Their aim is to also build coalitions across the GCC and the Arab world to abolish similar laws across the region.
Ultimately our goal is to create a safe environment where mothers, daughters, sisters and wives are protected from all forms of violence, to raise awareness of these violent practices and the legislation that sanctions them, and ensure the creation of safe houses for women under threat of violence, which are lacking in Kuwait.
Abolish 153 supports not only legal change but those who suffer as a consequence of existing legislation. With no shelters or resources for survivors, our team has become involved in many cases and your support is essential for our continued ability to help those in need.
Group photo from the WPP Knowledge Seminar in Kuwait City Jordan (March 2018)
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