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Gender & Women’s Studies Initiative (GWSI)

Countries in the Arab region are facing unprecedented political uncertainty and social upheaval. The war in Syria has created the worst humanitarian crisis since World War II. Wars and strife in Iraq, Libya, Sudan, and Yemen are unabated. The occupation of Palestine continues to devastate the social and human fabric. Lebanon teeters on the political and economic edge. The role of women, overlooked or underestimated, is central to these and other contestations raging in the region.

Women are pivotal social actors in every society. What we know (or do not know) about women influences perspectives and actions towards women at all levels -- from family and community to government policy. During this significant moment in the Arab region, an understanding of knowledge produced on or by women is a necessary foundation for any kind of social action – and vital to work related to gender equality and social justice. Dominant frameworks on international development, human rights, gender, and women have failed to integrate critical contexts and histories necessary for planners and policy makers to respond to changing realities in the Arab region.

This project will analyze the gender and women’s studies scholarly frameworks that have prevailed in the region in the last 50 years. By mapping the knowledge which has been produced in all key disciplines on gender and women in the Arab region, this project will establish a baseline from which major critical analysis and planning can emerge.

The goals of this project are to:

  • Provide a comprehensive overview of gender equality frameworks in the Arab region, as reflected in scholarship that has emerged from the region since 1970.

  • Understand the relationship between these frameworks and social, economic and political currents that have shaped the landscape on gender equality and women’s rights historically.

  • Support the next generation of gender and women’s scholars, practitioners, and activists in the Arab region through research and mentorship.

  • Expand dialogue and shared learning among civil society activists and practitioners at local, regional, and international levels to inform strategies on gender and social justice.

The project will be led by UCDAR’s Gender and Women’s Studies Initiative (GWSI), comprised of internationally-recognized women and gender studies scholars who work together to integrate  women and gender frameworks into academia, and support gender equality and social justice.  The mission of GWSI 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. 

In spring 2018, the GWSI leaders of this project will meet in Beirut, Lebanon for a workshop to plan the research agenda and develop funding sources to support this project.

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.

GWSI Member Bio's and Contact

AMERICAN UNIVERSITY OF BEIRUT (AUB)

Dr. Sara Mourad, Ph.D.
Assistant Professor of Media Studies and
Program Coordinator of Gender & Women’s Studies
American University of Beirut (AUB)
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.

 

AMERICAN UNIVERSITY OF CAIRO (AUC)

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
Research interests: Critical geographies, Urbanism, Precarity, and Methodologies

 

AMERICAN UNIVERSITY OF SHARJAH (AUS)

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
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.

 

BIRZEIT UNIVERSITY (BZU)

Dr. Eileen Kuttab
Director, Institute of Women’s Studies
Associate Professor, Sociology
Birzeit University, P.O. Box 14, Birzeit
West Bank, Palestine
Research interests: Gender and development, Nationalism and feminism, Youth and social movements.

 

LEBANESE AMERICAN UNIVERSITY (LAU)

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
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

 

UNIVERSITY OF CALIFORNIA, DAVIS (UCD)

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.
Research interests: Gender and citizenship; Family and child socialization; Family and state; Human rights and discourses of selfhood.

 

Partnering Gender and Women’s Studies Programs: Links

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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