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When Civil Society Sets the Social and Economic Agenda

 
(Rabat) – Sixteen researchers and civil society activists met in Rabat on 11 and 12 May to present state policies in the housing and education sectors in Egypt and Morocco and discuss the role of civil society in public policy development. 
 
The workshop, titled “When Civil Society Sets the Social and Economic Agenda”, was organized by the Arab Reform Initiative as part of the final phase of its project Economic and Social Policy Formation. The project, which is funded by the International Development Research Centre, seeks to empower advocacy groups and civil society actors in Egypt by drawing lessons from the Moroccan experience of national and parallel civil society dialogues in the formation of public policies and legislation.
 
During the eight sessions of the workshop, participants from both countries presented the advocacy and activism experience of civil society actors and their efforts to influence the public agenda, improve the lives of citizens, and shape the development of public policies in the housing and education sectors. They shared tactics on taking public action, building coalitions and consensus, and submitting policy proposals to the government, as well as the challenges they face.
 
The workshop also explored the margins of manoeuvre and the degree of leverage civil society in Egypt has in order to be able to play an active role in improving housing and education sectors.
 
The meeting was an opportunity to stress the importance of a participatory approach to policy formation and put forward recommendations to equip civil society actors with realistic strategies to build coalitions capable of working together, and if possible with the state, and taking part in the formulation of public policies to enhance their effectiveness.
 
The Economic and Social Policy Formation project will culminate with the publication in June 2017 of a collection of background papers, policy alternatives, and recommendations to civil society actors in the housing and education sectors. An activism toolkit combining lessons learnt based on the workshop discussions will also be published in September.
 
 
 
List of Participants
 
Abdallah Alalli, President of the Moroccan Network for Decent Housing, Morocco
 
Abderrahman Mouline, Researcher, Centre for Studies and Research in Social Sciences, Morocco
 
Asma Falhi, Programme Officer for North Africa, Fund for Global Human Rights, Morocco
 
Farid Ammar, Researcher, Centre for Studies and Research in Social Sciences, Morocco
 
Fawzia Bentaleb, Researcher, Centre for Studies and Research in Social Sciences, Morocco
 
Ghosoun Tawfik, Education Programme Officer, Social Justice Platform, Egypt
 
Ikram Adnani, Researcher, Minbar al Hurriyya, Morocco
 
Khadija Bentaleb, Researcher, Centre for Studies and Research in Social Sciences, Morocco
 
Mohamed Agati, Researcher and Director of the Arab Forum for Alternatives, Egypt
 
Nafissa El Souri, Research and Programme Assistant, Arab Reform Initiative, France
 
Nayera AbdelRahman, Visiting Fellow, Arab Forum for Alternatives, Egypt
 
Omnia Khalil, Researcher, 10Tooba, Egypt
 
Rachid Aourraz, Researcher and Founding member of Arab Centre for Scientific Research and Human Studies, Morocco
 
Salam Kawakibi, Researcher, Deputy Director of the Arab Reform Initiative, France
 
Shahdan Shabka, Housing expert and Professor of architecture and urban design, Cairo University, Egypt