Research on Women, Peace and Security in Syria – Supporting Arab Women at the Table (SAWT)

Application deadline: 21 October 2022

Context

The Arab Reform Initiative (ARI), as the lead partner of the Supporting Arab Women at the Table (SAWT) project, is seeking to commission the services of a Syrian entity/service provider (i.e. non-governmental/community-based organization, feminist group, consultancy/research firm) with a proven track record on knowledge production related to women political participation and particularly the Women, Peace and Security (WPS) agenda to a) undertake research on WPS in Syria by examining grassroot peacebuilding initiatives and innovative alternative forms of participation  and b) organize local round-tables for research findings dissemination and evidence-based advocacy to promote feminist perspectives.

The latter convenings will consist of gathering of women’s group activists, civil society, local and regional media and other stakeholders (where relevant) to promote the importance of women’s political participation and deploy collective advocacy actions at the local level in support of the positions and priorities identified by the women through these dialogues.

About ARI and the SAWT Project

ARI is a policy research center whose key mission is to articulate a home-grown agenda for democratic change and social justice in countries in the Arab region. We operate on the principles of impartiality, gender equality, and diversity and maintain a strict line of independence from any external agendas. We conduct policy analysis and innovative field research, combine scholarly work and advocacy, and produce practical intellectual tools to strengthen practices of active citizenship and influence political transformation processes. We also empower research from the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region by providing an international platform for dissemination. ARI engages academic researchers, think tanks, social movements, civil society actors, decision-makers, media, and the public on issues of democratization, social justice and full citizenship. ARI works in partnership with regional and international institutions to promote sustained South-South and South-to-North exchanges and dialogues related to reform initiatives across the region. ARI has offices in Paris, Beirut and Tunis.

Within ARI’s women’s political participation program, the SAWT project aims at quantitatively and qualitatively increasing women’s meaningful inclusion in peace processes in the MENA region. It will improve their ability to influence outcomes and establish post-conflict gender-egalitarian frameworks. It will focus on the emergence of a new generation of women activists with enhanced capacity, skills, and confidence. It will create new venues and mechanisms for cross-regional, intergenerational, cross-sectorial exchange and coalition-building for shared learning and collective action planning. It will also generate key forum for South-to-North exchanges that provide unique opportunities for knowledge production and sharing, advocacy and policy influencing.

It is funded by the European Union (EU) with ARI as the lead partner and implemented through country partners consisting of the Asfari Institute for Civil Society and Citizenship at the American University of Beirut (AUB) in Lebanon, Together We Build It in Libya, the Sana’a Center for Strategic Studies in Yemen, the Culture and Free Thought Association in Palestine, and the Iraqi Al-Amal Association in Iraq.

Consultancy Objectives

Background / Research Framework

Existing platforms tackling peace and security have increased since the Beijing declaration in 1995 and the landmark United Nations Security Council Resolution (UNSCR) 1325 on the role of women in peacebuilding, representing a turning point for the global agenda on gender equality. Yet, the public space for Syrian women to voice their opinions and express their version of feminism remains limited despite the efforts to build and maintain strong partnerships with local legitimate authorities, civil society, women’s groups, United Nations (UN) agencies, the EU and the media across the country. Such platforms (including the Syrian Women’s Advisory Board (WAB) and other women-led sub-committees) are partially addressing women’s experiences of insecurity and violence in a context where the protracted conflict continues to sideline and violate their rights. However, these platforms have been unable to represent or access women’s perspectives from wider Syrian communities, whether inside the country or the diaspora.

On the other hand, grassroot peacebuilding initiatives and innovative alternative forms of participation have gained considerable importance over the course of the conflict. It is, thus, crucial to take a deeper look at this scope of activism and conflict resolution and understand how it has contributed to enhance women’s decision making and key role at the local level, as well as its interaction and/or link with more official peace processes.

Consultancy Deliverables

The objectives of this consultancy mission are two-fold:

1. Undertake research and analysis on an angle of WPS in Syria

The service provider is required to submit a comprehensive proposal detailing a) the rationale for their choice of thematic; b) the research methodology that will be used for that purpose; c) channels through which they will access communities and networks in Syria; d) the geographic coverage; e) specific target audiences; f) risk and security management plans and g) requested budget.

For this research and analysis, ARI is particularly interested in exploring the following research questions:

(The service provider is expected to address most of these questions below, yet they can still choose to unpack 1-2 points based on the choice of thematic and track record in outreach and research remit.)  

  • Local peacebuilding initiatives: In light of the importance of grass-root peacebuilding efforts that proved quite efficient in addressing local conflicts and ensuring women’s participation in certain geographies within the country, were these initiatives taken into consideration by wider women representatives who had the opportunity to participate in high-level peace discussions? How were these efforts supported and replicated?
  • Women’s diverse representation: Were traditionally excluded local interests, communities and needs taken into consideration to positively influence peace processes and other reconciliation initiatives?
  • Syrian women activist movements: What are the particularities and differences of Syrian women activist movements across generations and geographies and what spaces exist to bridge these differences? What conversations were held and how were communities who are more vulnerable involved?
  • Emerging alternative forms of participation: What are the alternative forms of women’s political participation? What are the characteristics of peacebuilding efforts and mobilization dynamics formed by women who were not in the official negotiation tracks - including online participation? How do official and non-official efforts interact and how can this interaction be further developed.

2. Organize and carry forward local round-tables:

To achieve the SAWT project key objectives, ARI is keen to involve women activists’ groups, civil society and other stakeholders (where relevant) in local round-tables to disseminate key research findings and leverage collective advocacy actions in support of the WPS agenda in Syria. The service provider will, thus, be required to have a network inside Syria of such constituencies who will be convened to engage in such exchanges.

Consultancy Timeframe

This mission is expected to start by the end of October for a period that will be determined by the submitting entity based on the proposal, yet with i) a timeframe that does not exceed 3-4 months and ii) a budget of a maximum of 40 000 EUR.

It will be closely designed and delivered with the ARI SAWT project team and should include the below phases:

Phase 1: Preparation

Kick-off meeting with the SAWT project team to redefine the scope of the research: Reminder of the objectives and deliverables of the mission, sharing of internal documents and tools

  1. Document review: The submitting entity will have access to the internal project documents (logical framework, monitoring tools, activity reports and other relevant documents)
  2. Elaboration of the precise methodology and timeline to be followed
  3. Selection of the research focus and objectives, the target audiences and geographic remit
  4. Redaction of survey templates, focus group questions (and the content of other relevant tools)
  5. Validation meeting on the methodology, tools and planning and agreeing on a detailed SMART work plan

Deliverables:

  1. Inception report including research scope, methodology and tools designed by the submitting entity.

Phase 2: Data collection (primary and secondary sources)

The submitting entity might implement the following activities – but not limited to

  1. Conduct in-depth interviews with key stakeholders, partners and beneficiaries, and/or
  2. Conduct field visits where relevant, and /or
  3. Conduct focus group discussions with specific target audiences, and/ or
  4. Conduct quantitative survey with a representative sample of beneficiaries

Deliverables:

  1. 1:1 interviews
  2. Focus group discussions synthesis (main findings and quotations)
  3. Local level dialogues for advocacy purposes
  4. Collected data in a format agreed with the SAWT team (i.e., semi-structured interviews, field/observation notes, case studies, images, charts, reports, etc.)

Phase 3: Data Analysis and Redaction of the deliverables

The submitting entity is expected to provide the final research report by a date agreed with the SAWT project team no later than 3-4 months after contract signature. This report will consist of (but not limited to):

Deliverables:

  1. A draft research report to be submitted to the SAWT project team
  2. A final research report incorporating comments and feedback

It is envisaged that the local round-tables will be incorporated in the workplan, unpacked in the research methodology and dissemination framework, as well as carried out throughout the research timeframe. 

Applications / Profile of Applicants

The profile of the applicant(s) must meet the following requirements – all are Essential:

  1. A minimum of 5 years of experience conducting research on women political participation and WPS in Syria
  2. A proven track record in women’s rights initiatives and supporting knowledge production/research, capacity building and voices/networks of Syrian women activists
  3. A proven track record in gender transformative research and familiarity with feminist theories, feminist research and intersectional feminist and issues related to women’s political participation in Syria.
  4. A proven experience in peacebuilding projects in Syria working with local communities and through diversified networks

 Proposal Evaluation

The proposal evaluation will observe the following marking grid:

 Criteria Mark out of
Qualifications 10
CVs of the consultant(s) meeting the requirements above 5
Experience and references of the Consultants 5
Methodology 50
Strategy of implementation of the objectives of the mission 25
Overall methodology and tools proposed 25
Quality of the proposal 40
Clarity and relevance of the proposal 5
TOTAL 100

 

The submitting entity should share their research and local round-tables proposal by 21 October 2022 to eu-jobs@arab-reform.net with the email subject SRP comprising of:

  1. Updated CVs of the consultant(s)
  2. A short overview of how the applicant meets the qualifications, experience, and skills requirements (no more than one page)
  3. Samples of previous research reports
  4. Description of proposed project and methodology for both the research and round-tables (the latter could be incorporated in the research methodology). The description should highlight the objectives of the research, the methodology, the risk mitigation approach, and the experience of the consultant(s) in the area.
  5. Detailed budget – including fees and activity costs