About the ALWANE Coalition
In the past year, Women's Campaign International (WCI), a Philadelphia based international NGO, has worked with local partners and staff across the Middle East and North African countries to build an active network of men and women political, economic, civil society, and academic leaders, as well as youth, committed to the advancement of women’s leadership. This network, called the ALWANE Coalition (Active Leaders for Women's Advancement in the Near East), is now 350 person-strong and growing, engages countless local partners from the MENA's private and public sectors, and spans 16 countries across the region. Through utilizing innovative information and communication technology (ICT), engaging young, new voices, and leveraging this unprecedented regional collaboration, the network is raising awareness and motivating change nationally and regionally, both at a grassroots and policy level.
ALWANE currently consists of 16 national committees, including Morocco, Tunisia, Algeria, Libya, Egypt, Lebanon, Jordan, Iraq, Palestine, Saudi Arabia, UAE, Oman, Yemen, Kuwait, Qatar, and Bahrain. Each committee consists of around 12-20 members, and is diverse in age, gender, ethnicity, religion, and background. The committees are each working to identify the most pressing issues facing women in its country, to design and implement nation-wide advocacy campaigns to raise public awareness, and to draft and disseminate policy recommendations on those topics to their policy leaders.
Committees aim to establish themselves as sustainable entities that will continue to address women’s issues in the years to come. WCI commits to building the capacity of each committee in advocacy, leadership, organizational development, strategic planning, and program implementation. It works to provide the channels essential for the committees’ outreach to the public and decision makers. Finally, WCI aims to support committee efforts to raise additional funds and establish the necessary local, national, regional, and international partnerships to ensure long-term sustainability and impact.
The program design was finalized on January 9, 2012 officially launching the program. The national committees began to form in late February-early March 2012 with the first committee meetings being held in late March and April 2012. Each national committee met to identify pressing obstacles to women’s advancement in their respective countries, agree upon their visions, and design national advocacy action plans. In May 2012 committees convened in three sub regional meetings (North Africa, Levant, and GCC) to support one another through regional collaboration and exchange, as well as build their capacity and regional networks. Committee work is already in full swing and is receiving significant local, national, regional, and international attention. In Libya and Algeria committees will push for increased women’s political participation. Libya is focusing on including women in the process of constitutional reform and Algeria on the newly implemented 30% electoral quota for women. The Yemen committee is building the capacity of women civil society leaders to address challenges that have resulted for women in the aftermath of the conflict (i.e. violence against women). They have already launched a national and regional radio ad, painted murals in the streets of Sana’a, and established a Center for Observation and Monitoring of Violations against Women. The Palestine, Qatar, Bahrain, Kuwaiti, and Saudi Arabia Committees are focusing on women’s economic participation. The Palestine committee, for example, in partnership with a Palestinian ICT incubator (PICTI) and the Ministry of Communications, is working to establish the first telecommuting system which allows women to work from home. The Saudi Committee is partnered with Glowork and the Ministry of Labor, and sponsored by Harvey Nichols and Femi9 for their work in increasing the number working in retail, as well as working on policies to open other sectors for women to work including optical and furniture stores. Bahrain is partnered with the Bahraini Chamber of Commerce and the Bahraini Supreme Council for Women to launch the first ever Bahraini National Women's Day in December. The list goes on.
Between May and November 2012, committees are working to implement their advocacy campaigns and continue inter-regional collaboration through an online portal as well as the various social media platforms (All links provided below). In a Regional Summit in Amman (November 11-12), committees will gather to showcase their accomplishments, build their advocacy skills, network, and sign a regional commitment to the advancement of women’s leadership within the MENA countries.
Post-Summit, committees will continue to work on current and new advocacy campaigns, and distribute specific policy recommendations to local decision makers. They will also aim to establish themselves as sustainable entities to continue their work.
WCI’s Goal: A Second Year of ALWANE, and many more years to come!
WCI strives for ALWANE to continue its advocacy and policy work, to expand, and to become a sustainable entity that acts as a basis for ongoing collaboration between leaders in the MENA region and within their individual countries who are committed to achieving gender parity and advancing women's rights and participation in society. By working together, ALWANE leaders can raise awareness, create a platform for dialogue, advocate for change and influence national, regional and international policies affecting women’s participation in society.
The ALWANE Coalition's structure and concept (built on the important pillars of intra regional collaboration, youth engagement, and local ownership) has proven to be very successful in its first year. Unfortunately, the funding for this project (provided by the US Government) will end in March of next year. WCI's goal is to pave the way for a second year of ALWANE where it will be structured to become a truly sustainable entity. This entity should rely as much as possible on local support and finances as it will not be sustainable with foreign funding alone. In the first year, Country Officers were paid only symbolic stipends for their work and committees were given a very limited pool of resources for meetings and their advocacy work. The aim is for them to be provided with greater resources in the year to come in order to amplify their impact and reward them for their hard work.
The structure of a second year of ALWANE has not yet been decided - there is a lot of room here for innovation, creativity and thoughts, and we welcome all these ideas at the EAS summit. We also look forward to bringing on board anyone interested in some of the country specific activities of our committees. WCI also seeks support in development and fundraising in order to acquire the necessary funds to support a second year of ALWANE.
To learn more about ALWANE, please visit:
Our Facebook: www.facebook.com/ALWANE.MENA -
Our Website: Alwane-mena.d1g.com
And our twitter handle: @alwane_mena
To learn more about Women's Campaign International, please visit: www.womenscampaigninternational.org