Director’s Update: July 2017

Let’s start with the big news! The Institute is thrilled to be awarded the Middle East Partnership Initiative (MEPI) grant for “Encouraging Marginalized Voices in the Lebanese Political Process”. Our project – Equality for Everyone: Gender Reform from Grassroots to Government – supports marginalized groups in Lebanon to increase their political participation at local and national levels. 

The goal is to create meaningful and lasting change for marginalized women and men in communities—strengthening their capacities to lobby for gender reform at community, local, and national levels and laying the foundation for greater gender equality in the political sphere.

Summer has also kept our staff very busy! Our communication and outreach lead Tala Harb attended a brainstorming workshop to discuss women and information and communication technologies (ICT), organized by Oxfam’s Regional Gender Justice Programme. The workshop discussed how ICT can be harnessed as a tool for gender and women’s rights. IWSAW staff were also honored to celebrate the one-anniversary of the launch of the Lebanon Climate ActClimate change disproportionately affects women: as the majority of the world’s poor, they are often dependent on natural resources for their livelihood, leaving them much more vulnerable to climate changes.

IWSAW also attended a workshop entitled “Addressing the Challenges of Women’s Access to Justice in Lebanon” organized by the International Commission of Jurists in collaboration with Justice without Frontiers and the Woman’s Committee at the Beirut Bar Association. The workshop addressed the many obstacles that prevent women in Lebanon from accessing justice, but showcased best practices for successfully addressing these constraints and concluded with a list of recommendations for policy reform. Our team was also present at a special Focus Group discussion for Women, Gender and Youth Affairs as part of the UNDP project Support to Parliamentary Development in Lebanon. The meeting highlighted the many CSOs currently working with the Lebanese parliament, and the many ways to strengthen their advocacy and outreach work.

The Institute was again featured in the U.S.-based LAU Matters newsletter, this time for its first-ever scholarship endowment fund, the Assadour & Elize Konialian and Zabelle Bezdikian Memorial Endowment Scholarship Fund, for our Interdisciplinary Gender Studies graduate program! Check out the article!

In other news, after 44 years of research and advocacy, IWSAW has launched a process to update its name! With our growing network of projects and advocacy work, we believe a change in name will better represent the Institute as a whole. We would be pleased if you could take the time to fill out this brief survey to let us know your thoughts. We look forward to your feedback!

In gender news from outside Lebanon, Tunisia’s parliament just approved legislation that changes how gender-based violence is prosecuted. Although criminalizing domestic violence is a fundamental human right, we nevertheless recognize and applaud the Tunisian government’s progressive steps towards gender equality. Hopefully other Arab countries will follow Tunisia’s example! In the U.S. the enforcement of the Global Gag Rule under Trump is well underway, and has effectively stripped sexual and reproductive programmatic funding around the world. In response, the #SheDecides campaign has put together a manifesto – help us fight back, and sign it!

Keep fighting for what’s right!