Director’s Update: July 2016

June is heating up at the Institute!

This month included worldwide celebrations in honor of Pride Month – and yet we are all still shocked, saddened and angered by the horrific events that transpired in Orlando, Florida. We stand with the LGBTI community against discrimination and in favor of equality. In light of such events, the work of the Institute takes on renewed importance and reminds us all of the critical need for acceptance and open-mindedness not just for special occasions or in the wake of great tragedies - but every day.

For Pride Month, on behalf of the US Embassy, the Institute and LAU’s Continuing Education Program hosted an LGBTI rights interactive webchat that discussed the challenges in advancing human rights of LGBTI globally, including strategies for enhancing both cross- and intra-cultural dialogues concerning LGBTI rights. The webchat also focused on the Emmy-winning documentary Matt Shepard is a Friend of Mine, which tells the story of Matt Shepard, a young LGBTI student in Wyoming who was brutally murdered in one of the most notorious hate crimes in U.S. history. The panel, moderated by Mark Bromley, Chair of the Council for Global Equality, included Special Envoy for the Human Rights of LGBTI Persons Randy Berry, Judy Shepard, the mother of Matthew Shepard and founding president of the Matthew Shepard Foundation, and Michele Josue, director of Matt Shepard is a Friend of Mine, and other international documentaries. The Institute will be showing this film in the fall – watch this space for more information!     

This month the Institute ran its pilot training for Internal Security Forces (ISF) in Lebanon to build their capacity to understand and respond to gender-based violence (GBV). IWSAW developed the training curriculum working in close collaboration with the ISF Training Academy. The final version of the curriculum is currently being revised and will be submitted to the ISF Training Academy for implementation later this summer, with full training beginning shortly thereafter. This means that security personnel will be better able to provide safe, effective, appropriate support for GBV survivors – a critical intervention!

This month, Part II of the special thematic issue of Al-Raida was released. It includes papers that were presented at the international conference titled “Arab Countries in Transition: Gender Rights and Constitutional Reforms”. The issue also documents the thematic discussions that ensued out of a roundtable entitled Gender Research in Iraq: Reality and Expectations, an initiative sponsored by Open Society Institute International Women’s Program. The roundtable showcased the current status of gender research in the Arab world with special focus on Iraq.

And – this year Al-Raida turns 40! To celebrate this milestone, Al-Raida will soon be online - and searchable! Appearing regularly for the past forty years, including throughout the war, Al-Raida’s back issues are an invaluable resource for information about women in the Arab world. Currently, all issues are available in print and in .pdf format through our website. The project to digitize the entire collection of Al-Raida by making it searchable by article, author, title, theme, country and key words will be huge benefit to academics and activists alike! This will allow Al-Raida to greatly expand its local, regional, and international reach, ensuring that it lives on and is of use to a wider audience. That’s every single article of every single issue since the journal first began in May 1976 - over 150 issues!

The Institute has gained a new visiting researcher for the summer! Gabriella Nassif is a Ph.D. student and teaching assistant at the State University of New York at Buffalo in the Global Gender Studies Department. Following the completion of her MA degree from King’s College London in Middle Eastern Studies, Gabriella worked at numerous international development organizations including the Project on Middle East Democracy (POMED) and the International Foundation for Electoral Systems (IFES) in Washington, D.C. Gabriella is helping the Institute with some of its current research projects, including women’s labor force participation and costing violence against women in Lebanon. 

During our Food 4 Thought discussion this month, IWSAW released its Lebanon Gender Profile – the first of its Country Gender Profile Papers for each of the 22 Arab countries. These short papers provide snapshots of gender issues in each Arab country and serve as a starting point for further analyses and engagement. The Lebanon Gender Profile – and other profiles – will be on the website soon!

This month, ABAAD Resource Center for Gender Equality released its online Gender-Based Violence Case Management in Emergency Settings Online Course to provide training for the treatment for and care of survivors of gender-based violence, especially in emergency settings. The online training consists of eight modules inspired by the Lebanon National Technical Taskforce GBV Case Management Curriculum that I developed – and that will soon be available for use!

The Institute will continue to promote research and build a knowledge base that supports equality and social change – get involved!