Empowering Women for Leadership Roles in the Middle East and North Africa Region (Jordan, Morocco, and Tunisia)
This seven-year project, initiated in September 2016 and funded by Global Affairs Canada, is designed to empower women and advance inclusiveness in governance in the MENA region, specifically in Jordan, Morocco, and Tunisia. The project aims to increase the capacity of women to engage in leadership roles and governance processes and enhance the ability of women and men to influence policies pertaining to inclusiveness.
The program adopts a strategic approach based on four underlying principles:
• Provision of leadership skills training to enhance the leadership capacities of women and increase their confidence to assume leadership roles
• Facilitation of networking between the targeted female stakeholders and established women leaders to enable knowledge transfer and experience sharing on transformational leadership, governance, and policies.
• Development and dissemination of materials to foster increased awareness on women’s leadership and empowerment amongst the citizenry of the target countries.
• Enhancing the capacity of local organisations and actors to train and impart knowledge in women’s leadership and empowerment to fellow citizens.
Activities target four primary groups of stakeholders.
1. Established women leaders (legislators, public servants, local government, civil society, business, unions, and academia) to strengthen their leadership skills and further their understanding of democratic processes and governance systems.
2. Future Leaders, where training in leadership will be given to middle-level administrators and union members to encourage women to apply for leadership positions within their administrations. Local populations will be targeted to encourage more women to support political parties and become politically active.
3. The Public will more broadly be targeted by the program’s awareness-raising knowledge dissemination activities, as the development of more inclusive societies and challenging cultural norms also requires an attitudinal shift amongst both male and female stakeholders.
4. Institutions (Governmental, non-governmental, CSOs, media, trade unions, academic Institutions etc.) are targeted with the aim to strengthen their capacities to positively influence policies and develop programs that will help achieve inclusive governance.
History of Women Leadership in the MENA region:
The political and cultural climates of countries in the MENA region have contributed to the marginalization and underrepresentation of women within political, civil, and academic spheres. As a result, countries in the region experience various social, economic, and political impairments since women empowerment is a crucial vector for advancement. Furthermore, a lack of female participation in influential roles impedes the development of democratic systems which are essential to fostering sustainable development.
Evidently, women have played pivotal roles in the political history and progress of Jordan, Morocco, and Tunisia; most recently, the Arab Spring. However, as with other political contributions by women in the MENA region, their substantial influence during the Arab Spring has not led to a commensurate increase in the number of women in political and decision-making positions. According to the Global Gender Gap Report by the World Economic Forum (2017), in the global gender index, Jordan, Morocco, and Tunisia rank 135, 136, and 117 respectively. In women’s political empowerment, Jordan ranks 126, Morocco, 100, and Tunisia, 55.
Although there have been challenges in achieving gender equality, numerous strides have been made over the years. Despite this progress, it is crucial to maintain an upward trajectory and eradicate social, cultural, and religious strictures that aim to decrease or sustain the present number of women representatives and women who are politically active, empowered, and equipped to take up leadership roles. In its mandate to advance gender equality and inclusive governance, the Forum of Federation aims to help achieve these goals, hence the Empowering Women for Leadership Roles in the Middle East and North Africa Region (Jordan, Morocco, and Tunisia) project.
Forum News on the MENA Project: