Arab Feminist Activism in Times of COVID-19: Challenges, Opportunities and Transformations

Background and Rationale

The Asfari Institute seeks to focus on the powerful, positive, and constructive aspect of the work of civil society groups in the MENA region, namely feminist activism and how it unfolded during the COVID-19 pandemic. It is expected that this exploration will bear resonance beyond the region as it will shed light on how feminist activists are addressing injustices in complex patriarchal and conflict-ridden contexts.

The objective of this is to develop a body of knowledge on the modus operandi of feminist activists, to influence, shape, and model social activism in the MENA region and thus further the analysis of active citizenship in MENA. In doing so, the project will scope, map, monitor, document, and analyze the ways in which feminist activists and organizations engaged with the pandemic in a way that is distinguishable from other social movements in the region.


  1. Building a regional database that captures different feminist activist initiatives and undertakings in the MENA region.
  2. Creating a space for knowledge sharing.
  3. Documenting the narratives of feminist actors through biographies that seek to capture milestones of their socialization experiences and backgrounds.
  4. Identify global linkages with transnational feminist movements, their impact, and influences on the MENA region and actively engage in building regional networks of feminist initiatives in the region, around the pandemic, and beyond.




The project will be divided into three sets of activities:

  1. Monitoring and documenting feminist activism during COVID-19 through a comprehensive review of mainstream media and social media.
  2. Creating a living press files categorized by country, theme and type of activisms.
  3. Commissioning of country situation analysis papers.
  4. Convening consultation and learning webinars with feminist activists from the MENA region to debate the following feminist interventions and actions during COVID-19:
    1. Access to justice during the context of a pandemic
    2. Gender based violence in the private and public spheres
    3. Role of the state and the engendering of social protection
    4. Assistance to refugees and migrant women
    5. Intersectional feminism
    6. Livelihoods and economic rights
    7. Women’s care work and unpaid labor
    8. Sexual harassment and the need for constitutional and legal reforms
    9. Family law reforms including reform of provision regulating marriage, divorce, child custody, inheritance, etc.
    10. Nationality law reforms
  5. Compiling biographies of feminists working across the MENA region in their language of choice.

Project Outputs

  • A comprehensive open source press file categorized by theme and country.
  • 6-10 country specific analytical papers.
  • 6-10 webinar recordings.
  • Case study material for communication, advocacy, as well as course material to be taught within and beyond AUB.
  • Biographies (AV and transcripts) complied in an anthology book.
  • A compiled report of the webinars to be available for usage as teaching material, as well as gray literature.

Asfari Institute for Civil Society and Citizenship

American University of Beirut


PO Box 11-0236

Riad El Solh, ​1107 2020
Beirut, Lebanon

Tel: +961-1-350000 EXT. 4469


The Debs Center, 3 Dag Hammarskjold Plaza, 8th floor
New York, NY 10017-2303, USA

Tel: 1-212-583-7600