Strategizing for Democracy: Challenges and Opportunities for Women in the MENA Region (document, English)


Strategizing for Democracy: Challenges and Opportunities for Women in the MENA Region (document, English)

Resource Type
Event Brochure or Report
Publication Year
English (US)





On 2 March 2012, activists and experts from across the world convened by the Women's Learning Partnership For Rights, Development and Peace (WLP), met in New York City to discuss the causes, consequences and other aspects of the revolutions sweeping the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) during 2011. As longstanding dictatorships collapsed, what had appeared as the promise of democratization, an "Arab Spring," seemed to be turning into the perils of chaos, civil war and resurgent authoritarianism, whether secularist-nationalist or Islamist in character. 

This white paper compiles many of the insights presented during the strategy meeting. The recommendations from these activists and experts are based on their extensive experience advocating for human rights and working for their own societies to make transitions from authoritarianism to political systems that embrace pluralism, civility and compromise. In short, they aimed to ensure that the recent revolutions in the Middle East and North Africa follow the course that human rights advocates and ordinary citizens choose and are indeed entitled to—the creation and preservation of gender-inclusive democracies that may become exemplars throughout the Global South.


  • Acknowledgements
  • About WLP
  • Participants in the Strategy Meeting at the Ford Foundation, 2 March 2012
  • Introduction -- The Start of a Process of Strategizing
  • Snapshots from Political Transitions in the Region
  • Islamism and the Women's Movement -- Resisting the Backlash in the Middle East and North Africa (by Ann Elizabeth Mayer)
  • Democratization, Constitutional Reform and Women's Rights -- The Model of Brazil (by Jacqueline Pitanguy)
  • Increasing Women's Voice in Political Parties -- Insights from the National Democratic Institute (by Susan Markham)
  • Media Use and Democratization in Arab Societies -- "Technology is Easy, Community is Hard." (by Ann Nelson)
  • Gender and Civic Education in the Middle East and North Africa (by Carolyn Kissane and Natasha Lamoreux)


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