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Gender & Women’s Studies Initiative (GWSI)

The Gender & Women’s Studies Initiative is a sub-group of the BCBCB Consortium. The mission of the Gender and Women’s Studies Initiative is to launch projects to support the continued development of gender and women’s studies across the Arab region, to create a model for regional educational innovation and collaboration, and to foster networks and initiatives with transformative possibilities for gender equality and social justice. The Initiative engages in collaborative projects to build bridges that connect academia, policymakers, practitioners, and activists in civil society around critical gender and women’s issues. It is led by a group of internationally-recognized gender and women’s scholars from BCBCB Consortium partnering universities.

GWSI Members

Dr. Sara Mourad, Ph.D.

Dr. Martina Rieker, Ph.D.

Dr. Nawar Al-Hassan Golley, Ph.D.

Dr. Eileen Kuttab

Dr. Lina Abirafeh, Ph.D.

Myriam Sfeir, M.A.

Dr. Suad Joseph, Ph.D.

Current GWSI Projects

Gender and Women’s Studies Mapping Project
The current proposal under development: “Transforming Higher Education: Mapping Teaching and Research on Women and Gender in the Arab Region”
is a two-phased mapping project. The purpose of the project is to support gender and women’s studies initiatives and champions for gender equality and social justice within Arab universities at a time when the advancement of gender equality is closely interlinked with the future of the Arab region. By collecting data across the region, this project will foster the growth of gender and women’s studies scholarship and teaching, and promote innovative gender equality and social justice initiatives. Project Phase I: “Mapping the Gender and Women’s Studies Landscape in the Arab Region” is an institutional assessment to provide baseline data on current gender and women’s studies programs and initiatives within Arab universities, and to create and scale programs on gender and women’s studies in Arab academic institutions. Project Phase II: “Mapping and Analyzing Scholarship and Discourses on Gender and Women in the Arab Region” is a sociology of knowledge study that examines how scholarship and discourses on gender and women have been shaped by political and social currents and how such scholarship and discourses have led to new, ground-breaking frameworks for understanding and transforming gender relations and women’s conditions.

Women and STEM Project
Faculty at the partnering universities and faculty at UC Davis have joined a new collaborative effort to support women’s opportunities and feminist perspectives in STEM fields with the joint project, titled: “Feminism & Stem: Launching UC Davis & Arab Region Collaborations.” This project launches an innovative collaboration between UC Davis feminist STEM scholars and feminist STEM scholars in the Arab region, to pioneer UC Davis global engagements with sister universities, internationally, in the field of women and STEM sciences.
In the Arab region, an extraordinary number of women are pursuing degrees in STEM fields. Yet, women’s academic success has not translated into a closing of the gender gap professionally. Women from the region are still vastly underrepresented in STEM careers, and in the labor market. There has been very little deep exploration, in the Arab region, of the gendered dimensions of STEM scholarship, how feminist frameworks could be applied to STEM fields, and the climate and opportunities for women in STEM disciplines as faculty and students. This project, for the first time, initiates engagements between UC Davis and Arab region feminist STEM scholars to foster research partnerships, nurture women’s leadership in STEM fields, and support critical human capital and gender equality in the emerging knowledge and innovation economies in the Arab region.

GSWI Member Bio's and Contact


Dr. Sara Mourad, Ph.D.
Assistant Professor of Media Studies and
Program Coordinator of Gender & Women’s Studies
American University of Beirut (AUB)
skype: sara-mourad
Research interests: intersection of media, cultural studies, feminist theory, and queer studies. Her current research explores the role of media in the expression of gender and sexual dissent and the formation of queer and feminist subcultures and identities in postwar Lebanon. It examines gender and sexual non-conformity in television talk shows, literary texts, digital publications, and films to understand the shifting boundaries of publicity in contemporary Arab societies.


Other Contacts at AUB (*means they are not automatically included in meetings/correspondence but may be reached out to on case by case basis)

*Dr. Nadia Maria El Cheikh, Ph.D.
Interim Associate Provost
Professor, Department of History and Archeology
American University of Beirut (AUB)
P.O. Box 11-0236
Riad El Solh
Beirut, Lebanon 1107 2020
Cell: 961-3-941665
Tel: 961-1-350000 ext. 4180
Fax: 961-1-744461
Research interests: Arab Byzantine relations; Gender history in the Abbasid period; the Abbasid Court


*Dr. Charlotte Karam, Ph.D.
Associate Professor, Organizational Behavior
Chairperson of the Management, Marketing and Entrepreneurship Track
Director of the KIP Project in Gender and Sexuality
American University of Beirut (AUB)
Olayan School of Business 349
P.O. Box 11-0236
Riad El-Solh
Beirut, Lebanon 1107 2020
Cell: +961-3-326-031
Tel: +961-1-350-000 ext. 3764
Skype name: ckaram11
Research interests: Responsible Engagement within developing economies with a focus on gender. Research is examined within a multilevel contextual framework which considers factors relating to culture, socioeconomic development, civil society organizing and political stability with a current focus on how organizations engage responsibly toward internal and external stakeholders (e.g., gender-related policies, gendering CSR).


*Ms. Zeina Mhaidly
Project Coordinator, KIP Project on Gender and Sexuality
American University of Beirut (AUB)
Olayan School of Business, P.O. Box 11-0236
Riad El Solh
Beirut, Lebanon 1107 2020
Tel: 01-350000 ext. 3748


Dr. Martina Rieker, Ph.D.
Director, Institute for Gender & Women’s Studies
School of Global Affairs & Public Policy
American University of Cairo (AUC)
Research Centers Building
New Cairo 11835, Egypt
Cell: (20) 100 262 6184
Tel: +20 2 26151387
Research interests: Critical geographies, Urbanism, Precarity, and Methodologies



Dr. Nawar Al-Hassan Golley, Ph.D.
Professor, English Department
Coordinator of the Women’s Studies Minor
American University of Sharjah (AUS)
University City, P.O. Box 26666
Sharjah, United Arab Emirates
Cell: +971-50-736 0219
Office: +971-6-515 2703
Research and Training areas: Women’s writings; Self-writing; Postcolonial literature and studies; Feminist theory and women and gender studies; Gender and feminism in the Middle East; Women’s movements.



Dr. Eileen Kuttab
Director, Institute of Women’s Studies
Associate Professor, Sociology
Birzeit University, P.O. Box 14, Birzeit
West Bank, Palestine
Cell: 970-599-671-309
Office: 970-2- 2982013 (use office # if calling from Beirut)
Skype: eileen.kuttab
Research interests: Gender and development, Nationalism and feminism, Youth and social movements.



Dr. Lina Abirafeh, Ph.D.
Director, Institute for Women’s Studies in the Arab World (IWSAW)
Lebanese American University (LAU)
P.O. Box: 13-5063 Chouran
Beirut 1102 2801, Lebanon
Office: +961.1.786.456 ext. 1359
Fax: +961 1 867 098
Skype: KabuLina
Research interests: Gender in development and humanitarian contexts; Gender-based violence


Myriam Sfeir, M.A.
Assistant Director, Institute for Women’s Studies in the Arab World (IWSAW)
Lebanese American University (LAU)
P.O. Box: 13-5063 Chouran
Beirut 1102 2801, Lebanon
Tel: +961 1 786 456 ext.1288
Fax: +961 1 867 098
Skype: lau.iwsaw



Dr. Suad Joseph, Ph.D.
Distinguished Professor, Anthropology and Gender, Sexuality & Women’s Studies
Faculty Advisor to the Chancellor
University of California, Davis (UCD)
1 Shields Avenue, Davis, CA 95616, U.S.
Young Office: +530-752-1593
Mrak Office: +530-752-7312
Fax: + 530-752-8885
Skype: suad.joseph
Research interests: Gender and citizenship; Family and child socialization; Family and state; Human rights and discourses of selfhood.

Partnering University Programs

American University of Beirut (AUB)
Gender and Women’s Studies

American University in Cairo (AUC)
Cynthia Nelson Institute for Gender and Women’s Studies

American University of Sharjah (AUS)
Minor in Women’s Studies

Birzeit University
Institute of Women’s Studies

Lebanese American University (LAU)
Institute for Women’s Studies in the Arab World

University of California, Davis (UCD)
The Feminist Research Institute

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