Background and Rationale
Since early 2021, the Asfari Institute for Civil Society and Citizenship at the American University of Beirut and Oxfam have been collaborating on organizing a series of feminist circles which addressed several key issues as perceived and analyzed by a diverse group of intersectional feminists who are either activists or scholars. The purpose was to create a safe space for in-depth feminist conversations amongst activists who are the knowers and that would feed into policy dialogues and communication briefs as well as provide homegrown feminist knowledge that will inform and strengthen ongoing feminist praxis in the MENA region. As the Asfari Institute is preparing to launch with Oxfam in the second season of the feminist circles, we are also seeking to develop this work within the framework of the Massarouna project.
Thus, our engagement in Year 2 with Oxfam’s Massarouna project seeks to achieve the following objectives:
- Amplify the skills, engagement, and role of youth in all their diversity in promoting awareness, homegrown knowledge production, best practice, culture shift, and positive public policies on SRHR;
- Facilitating cross-regional linkages and collaboration amongst youth in all their diversity in campaigning and lobbying for SRHR;
- Engage MENA youth in all their diversity in global lobbying and advocacy on SRHR as well as facilitating their access to key global spaces such as the CSW, HLPF, and others;
- Support and sustain the new generation of MENA feminist youth activists in all their diversity in creating spaces for joint, sustainable, and powerful advocacy on SRHR.
The Massarouna activities are in five inter-connected work packages as follows:
- Building new advocacy skills
This will include the following activities over 12 months:
- Designing and implementing 2 regional youth-led workshops of intersectional feminist advocacy: tools, strategies, best practice,
- Organising one regional convening to design, based on knowledge gained, the local and regional campaigns including the detailed action plan, timeline, and feminist MEL tools.
- Generating and co-creating knowledge
This will include the following activities over 12 months:
- Organising a regional writeshop to identify the critical knowledge gaps in the region and which and how these knowledge gaps can be addressed
- Selecting knowledge production methods to be used (testimonials, storytelling, documentation, issue and policy briefs, communication materials) and creating at least 6 knowledge products during this period
- Developing and implementing a dissemination plan which includes printed material, AV material, podcasts, infographics, blogs, and stories.
- Global advocacy and CSW
The theme for the CSW66 is climate justice, an issue that has not been significantly prominent on the agenda of the feminist movements in the MENA despite its increased importance, its direct relevance to conflict, livelihoods, and women’s care work and care burden as well as its intimate connection with conflict and migration.
The Asfari Institute is currently prioritizing the CSW as an important space for global advocacy and influencing and will work towards the preparation for the next CSW66 which will be held from 14 to 22 March 2022.
The priority theme of CSW66 is achieving gender equality and the empowerment of all women and girls in the context of climate change, environmental, and disaster risk reduction policies and programmes. The review theme for CSW66 is Women’s economic empowerment in the changing world of work (c.f. agreed conclusions of CSW61).
The main purpose of the Asfari institute will be to amplify the engagement of young, emerging, creative, intersectional feminist groups in CSW66 as a key space for international advocacy. This will be pursued by the Asfari Institute beyond CSW66 and as a critical initiative for strengthening MENA civil society and feminist advocacy at the global level.
Within this framework, the activities that we seek to implement as part of our collaboration with Oxfam are as follows:
- One virtual regional training on CSW mechanisms and ways of working (December 2021 and January 2022). This online training will introduce young and emergent feminist groups and organisations to the CSW as a space as well as a mechanism and how it can be navigated. This is an online training which is based on a manual that is created and adapted each year by the NGO CSW NY.
- One specialized regional training on gender and climate justice with feminist gender climate activists from Latin America and South Asia (January 2021)
- As gender and climate change as a theme as well as a feminist struggle has not been explored in-depth by feminist activists in the MENA region, the Asfari Institute will reach out to activists from Latin America and South Asia to engage in a cross-pollination exchange of learning.
- A regional consultation pre-CSW event to develop a draft issue paper on gender and climate change in the MENA region.
- One training on the mechanism for receiving the ECOSOC accreditation and so to enable more young and emerging feminist groups in the region to have access to the CSW space.
- Organization of 2 parallel events at CSW66.
- Active presence of youth MENA feminist activists in the Arab Caucus meetings
The Asfari Institute will be implementing these activities in close and direct collaboration with the NGO CSW NY (the Asfari Director as well as a feminist activist and global SRHR expert are the co-Chairs of the NGO CSW Arab Region).
- Local and regional advocacy
In addition to the global advocacy at the level of the CSW, and based on the advocacy training organized, the youth intersectional feminist groups will be guided to design and carry out the following:
• Producing innovative lobbying and advocacy material
• Organising country-wide campaigns and festivals including film festival
• Organising regional campaigns using new media
- History in real-time
This will be one of the innovative components of this initiative. We will recruit a feminist writer and artist to document it not only in writing but all so using various forms of art and graphic reporting in addition to AV products. This will contribute to showcasing innovative youth-led documentation of feminist processes.
Asfari Institute for Civil Society and Citizenship
American University of Beirut
PO Box 11-0236
Riad El Solh, 1107 2020
Tel: +961-1-350000 EXT. 4469
The Debs Center, 3 Dag Hammarskjold Plaza, 8th floor
New York, NY 10017-2303, USA