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Production of Knowledge on Women and Gender in the Arab Region

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.

In spring 2018, the leaders of this project met for two two-day workshops in Beirut, Lebanon to plan the research agenda and develop funding sources to support this project.

MPKWG Members

Nada Chaya, MPH

Connie Christiansen, PhD

Nawar Golley, PhD

Suad Joseph, PhD

Deema Kaedbay, PhD

Sara Mourad, PhD

Martina Reiker, PhD

Seteney Shami, PhD

Jennifer Skulte-Ouaiss, PhD

Research Team


Dr. Sara Mourad, Ph.D.
Assistant Professor of Media Studies and
Program Coordinator of Gender & Women’s Studies

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.



Dr. Martina Rieker, Ph.D.
Director, Institute for Gender & Women’s Studies
School of Global Affairs & Public Policy

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

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

Research interests: Gender and development, Nationalism and feminism, Youth and social movements.

Dr. Lena Meari, PhD
Assistant Professor Assistant Professor Department of Social and Behavioral Science
Acting Director, Institute of Women Studies

Research interests: geopolitics of knowledge production, decolonized methodologies, colonial structures and colonial relations, the politics of sumud, revolutionary subjectivity, anti-colonial feminist theory, and critical approaches to the concept of development with emphasis on Palestine and the Arab World.



Dr. Connie Christiansen
Associate Professor, Gender Studies

Research interests: published research on gender, migration and Islam in Denmark, Turkey, Morocco and Yemen. She has her M.A. in Cultural Sociology and Ph.D. in Anthropology from Copenhagen University, Denmark.

Dr. Jennifer Skulte-Ouaiss
Assistant Professor, Department of Social Sciences

Research interests: post-communist politics, national identity and women and politics 



Dr. Suad Joseph, Ph.D.
Distinguished Professor, Anthropology and Gender, Sexuality & Women’s Studies
Faculty Advisor to the Chancellor

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

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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