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Status of Women in The Middle East and North Africa

Project Summary

IFES and the Institute for Women’s Policy Research (IWPR) have united their years of experience in research and capacity building to enhance the status of women in the Middle East and North Africa. Through comparative and country-specific surveys, the project measured how women in Lebanon, Morocco and Yemen see themselves as members of society, the economy and the polity. Using the information obtained from the surveys, the project has built the capacity of local NGOs seeking to improve women’s well-being by providing them with tools to develop policy recommendations and skills for working on advocacy campaigns.

The project has delivered on a number of major outcomes:

1- Improved availability of useful and effective data to analyze women’s status in politics, economy, society and family

2- Enhanced research capacity of in-country research organizations to gather and analyze data

3- Strengthened NGO capacity to pursue research-based advocacy on behalf of women to influence the policy process around women’s status issues

4- Strengthened networks of highly-skilled advocacy and research organizations on cross-cutting issues in the region

5- Increased understanding and awareness of the status and needs of women by legislators and other political leaders

The SWMENA project occured in two phases. The first set of activities involved the collection and analysis of data on women’s status in several areas: political representation and participation; economic participation and opportunity; poverty, ownership and social welfare; and health, violence and wellbeing. In each country, IFES and IWPR involved local research and advocacy organizations in defining central concepts and measurement tools used to create the questionnaires and facilitate the surveys.

In the second phase of the project, IFES worked with international and local gender experts on using the data collected through the surveys on advocacy efforts. IFES held a total of 16 workshops focusing on disseminating data; building capacity of local CSOs advocacy work; developing proposal writing skills, monitoring and evaluation, and financial management; an infographics training; meetings with MPs; and a series of lessons learned workshops. In total IFES trained over 160 women's advocates from over 54 organizations not including indepented journalists, students, or other activists.

During final phase of the project, IFS worked with local partners in Morocco and Lebanon through the provision of subawards. Under these small grants, women’s groups used SWMENA data to work on media or advocacy campaigns activities which targeted parliamentarians or other decision-makers to advance the status of women.

About IFES

The International Foundation for Electoral Systems (IFES) is the global leader in election assistance and democracy promotion.

IFES promotes democratic stability by providing technical assistance and applying field-based research to the electoral cycle in countries around the world to enhance citizen participation and strengthen civil societies, governance and transparency.

Every IFES project is staffed by national and international personnel while partnering with local election management bodies and civil society organizations. This homegrown approach ensures that the expertise offered by IFES fits the needs of the country or client and the benefit of assistance outlasts the life of the project. Our work is nonpartisan and also includes projects that:

Help citizens participate in their democracies
Increase politicians' accountability to the electorate
Strengthen government institutions

Since its founding in 1987, IFES has worked in 133 countries - from developing democracies, to mature democracies.

IFES is a non-governmental organization; registered as a 501(c)3 in the United States.