Director’s Update: April 2016

Spring semester is almost over – how did that go by so fast?! Students are preparing for exams, and the Institute is already gearing up for the fall!

As you all know by now, one of our key activities is to provide gender-focused academic programming at LAU. This means we’ve got gender studies covered for every level - undergraduate, graduate, and mid-career. 

To start, our Minor in Gender Studies was launched in Spring 2016. There has been a LOT of interest here! For students who want to take gender studies courses in the fall, we’ve got them in both Beirut and Byblos.

We also have our Masters in Interdisciplinary Gender Studies – a combination of academic research, intellectual rigor, and social activism. This is a one-year program that brings practice and theory together to give students the skills they need to access a range of jobs – in government, international agencies, non-governmental organizations, think tanks, academia, civil society, and more! Applications close on 15 July. And - there are scholarships and financial aid opportunities available – apply now!

And finally, we’re almost ready to launch our Continuing Education Certificate Program in Gender in Development and Humanitarian Assistance in partnership with the Continuing Education Program (CEP) at LAU and the Human Rights Education Associates (HREA).

This month started in NYC and DC with meetings and discussions to meet with the IWSAW Advisory Board and the LAU Board of Trustees to update them on the fantastic work of the Institute. This is a historic moment of unprecedented attention on gender issues in the Arab world – we occupy a unique and critical space. Now is the time to support and promote the Institute to ensure that it reaches the next level!

Our travels and networks this month resulted in a new partnership with the George Washington University Global Women’s Institute (GWI). Since 2012, GWI has been working to advance gender equality through interdisciplinary research, education, and policy and outreach. GWI serves as a catalyst for action, linking George Washington University faculty and students with international researchers, practitioners, activists, and policymakers to end violence against women and girls, empower women economically, and increase women’s participation and leadership in society. GWI is led by expert academic and activist Mary Ellsberg who brings over 30 years of experience in international research and programs on gender and development. Dr. Ellsberg is also the author of more than 40 books and articles on violence against women and girls!

Also in April, IWSAW hosted a meeting of a consortium of universities in the Arab world with gender studies programs to find ways to collaborate and foster regional collaboration. We also hosted a critical one-day training for women’s civil society organizations on proposal writing, led by Dr. Suad Joseph. More of that to come!

We’re pretty excited to be listed as a resource on the Arab Development Portal – a project of various institutions including the Islamic Development Bank, the OPEC Fund for International Development (OFID), and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP). The initiative serves as a resource on critical aspects of development in the Arab world – including gender issues.

We are glad to announce that the Institute has become a member of the Euro-Mediterranean Women’s Foundation – a network of networks to bring together all actors working on gender equality in the Euro-Mediterranean. Together we can advance our shared agenda to fight for gender equality and promote the participation of women in all aspects of public life. This is the foundation of everything we do at the Institute!

One way we support women’s empowerment in the Arab world is by promoting research on and by Arab women. We’re very excited that LAU’s own Dr. Ghada El Khoury has received a Knowledge is Power (KIP) Research Grant from AUB to conduct research with us! Dr. El Khoury will be investigating the knowledge, attitudes and practices that underpin family planning in Lebanon – information relevant to everyone working on gender and sexuality in the country. This study will be disseminated through presentations, articles, discussions – look for information in Al Raida and in our Food 4 Thought speaking series in the future!

Speaking of Food 4 Thought, this month we discussed sexual exploitation of women and girls in Lebanon with our guest speaker Ghada Jabbour, activist and head of the anti-trafficking in women unit at KAFA. This issue has recently received much attention in Lebanon owing to the horrific stories that were highlighted in the news after the arrest of one of the largest trafficking rings in Lebanon and freeing around 75 girls, mostly Syrians, that were tortured and held as sex slaves.

Check out our website, Facebook, and Twitter frequently – we’ve got a few upcoming events in the pipeline we don’t want you to miss!