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While active participants on the front lines of protests and uprisings in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA), women became invisible, absent from processes of formation of the new states, and excluded from decision-making roles, responsibilities, and positions in the aftermath of the uprisings.
Recognizing the urgency that the above context presents for women’s rights activists in the MENA region, the Association for Women’s Rights in Development (AWID), sought to maximize engagement by MENA activists in our 2012 International Forum, for strategizing and solidarity among the more than 2,200 women’s rights activists from across the world that convened for the Forum in Istanbul, Turkey, under the broad theme of Transforming Economic Power to Advance Women’s Rights and Justice. As part of this, AWID partnered with Women’s Learning Partnership and with the Equality Without Reservation Coalition and Global Fund for Women to organize a Forum pre-meeting on Women’s Rights in Transitions to Democracy: Achieving Rights, Resisting Backlash.
As part of AWID’s role to facilitate access to relevant resources from diverse contexts, we further proposed to map, translate where viable, and disseminate a summary of key articles and experiences. To this end, we sought guidance and content support from an advisory committee and consultants from within the region. This bibliography intends to contribute to the desire for learning and engagement identified by activists in the MENA region when reflecting on the aftermath of fast unfolding transitions in the region. Such transitions, while specific to the context of MENA, are not unique in their occurrences around the world. Experiences and practices of feminists from around the world engaged in similar, even if not identical, struggles towards the democratization of their countries with a gendered lens and a feminist politics constitute an important knowledge bank that activists can draw upon, learn from, and engage with. This resource mapping aims to fill the gap realized in various convenings and conversations of a lack of information sharing and knowledge bridging among feminists across the regions that experienced similar uprisings; particularly along south-south and east-south lines. At the same time, it responds to the insight from our advisory group that even within the MENA region there is limited circulation of relevant information and systematization of experiences. This collection is intended to provide an opportunity for women’s rights activists in the MENA region to learn from past experiences of promoting women’s rights in contexts of transitions in other parts of the world as well as from the current experiences of their peers. It also intends to strengthen ties to women’s rights movements and activists in other regions. It reflects an aspiration for women’s rights organizations and activists to share their experiences and insights across regional boundaries. It builds a meaningful collection of knowledge and tools in one space, easily accessible, for use by activists across the region to most pertinently engage in and influence current transition processes. Not only do we hope that these resources support the immediate needs of activists in the MENA region, but also that they provide a reference and broad framework to assess reactions and responses to the particular challenges of such upheavals, as well as support learning and connection across women’s movements on a global level.