The SAWT project sought to quantitatively and qualitatively increase women’s meaningful inclusion in political and peace processes in the MENA region. From 2021-2023, ARI, in conjunction with its partner organizations The Asfari Institute for Civil Society and Citizenship at the American University of Beirut (Lebanon), Together We Build It (Libya), the Sana’a Center for Strategic Studies (Yemen), the Culture and Free Thought Association (Palestine), and the Iraqi Al-Amal Association (Iraq), with ARI itself working on Syria, directly contributed to women’s meaningful inclusion in peace processes in the MENA region. The aim was to increase their ability to influence outcomes and establish post-conflict gender-egalitarian frameworks by supporting women’s integration in all phases of the peacebuilding process. The project took a broader and more holistic view of what “peace processes” mean and look like and focused on the emergence of a new generation of women activists in MENA. It proposed four broad areas of work and involved collaboration with civil society actors, academics, activists, and networks in both Europe and the MENA region.
Activity Area 1: National level research
The project conducted research and knowledge production covering the five case study countries. It included understanding obstacles and barriers to women’s meaningful participation, what “meaningful participation” meant to them and looked like in practice, gatekeeping and institutional mechanisms of women’s exclusion including from the perspective of men, and the discourses and practices of the new generation of women activists. It particularly identified gaps in the literature and approaches to the concept of women’s inclusion and their role in peacebuilding, bringing to the fore the new generation of women activists.
Activity Area 2: National-level dialogue and advocacy
Activity Area 2 consisted of two activities: a series of webinars and in-person meetings led by the country partners to hold national level dialogues between different women’s groups and individual women leaders, activists, and political actors. This included specific emphasis on intergenerational, transnational, cross-sectorial encounters including women activists in the diaspora; and advocacy actions undertaken at the national and/or international level. Parallel to the dialogues, reflections on national advocacy actions were also made in support of the positions and priorities identified by the women through the dialogues.
Activity Area 3: Regional exchanges and outreach
Activity Area 3 consisted of two activities, led by The Asfari Institute for Civil Society and Citizenship at the American University of Beirut (Lebanon): promoting regional exchange between emerging women leaders and the new generation of feminist activists through a Regional Fellowship Program, and undertaking regional-level analysis taking stock of the WPS agenda in MENA. The Regional Fellowship Program included a certain number of expert-led closed webinars leading up to a Summer School at AUB to produce a new regional cohort.
Activity Area 4: South-to-North dialogue and advocacy
Activity Area 4 consisted of two activities: moderated Euro-Med exchanges and advocacy trips of country partners to the EU. Each year, a series of moderated discussions on thematic issues between 10 women from the region (2 per target country) with 10 EU/EU-adjacent officials took place. This included private webinars culminating in a study mission and joint brainstorming sessions in Brussels. Additionally, the country partners also had the opportunity to travel to EU capitals for the purpose of conducting advocacy.
To view the SAWT country reports click here.