New Report: Arab Spring or Arab Autumn for women in the Middle East and North Africa?

from CARE
Published on 10 Sep 2013

CARE International launches report in Geneva on Thursday, September 12 at side event of the 24th Session of the UN Human Rights Council

Geneva, September 10, 2013. Aid agency CARE International launches a new report showing research findings on women’s participating in the Arab spring and outlining how international donor policy needs to adapt to the changing context across the Arab region in the wake of the Arab Spring.

The report will be introduced at an event jointly organised by CARE and the Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom (WILPF) during the 24th Session of the UN Human Rights Council, on September 12 at the Palais des Nations (more detailed information below).

The main findings of the report conclude that the outlook for women in the region remains uncertain. The popular uprisings in the Middle East have created a complex set of challenges and opportunities with regards to women’s political participation. Whilst there has been an upsurge of new activism by women and concrete gains made in some political transition processes, in other cases there has been talk of the 'Arab Spring' turning into an Autumn or Winter for women's rights. Nearly all Middle Eastern countries in the World Economic Forum’s Global Gender Gap Report scored more poorly in 2012 than they did in 2011.

Sherine Ibrahim, CARE Middle East Deputy Director, said: “For too long women’s rights across the Middle East and North Africa has been seen as a tick box exercise. We call on the International Community and governments across the Middle East to not forget or side-line women as a new kind of politics and society if formed.”

The report suggests that donors should invest in longer-term development programmes that will change the attitudes and practices that are a barrier to women’s participation in public life and support initiatives that will bridge the religious-secular divide that is becoming increasingly polarised.

The Geneva launch event will provide an opportunity for policy-makers and other relevant stakeholders to discuss trends in the Middle East; to hear the findings from research undertaken by both CARE International and WILPF and their partners in Yemen, Morocco, Lebanon, Iraq, Tunisia, Egypt, Jordan, Libya and the occupied Palestinian territory with regard to women’s inclusion and participation in decision making. Representatives from civil society organisations from Libya and Egypt will share their insights and recommendations - with a particular focus on relevant findings for the international human rights mechanisms and processes such as the Human Rights Council.

Launch event: Arab Spring or Arab Autumn? A roundtable on women’s participation in the Middle East and North Africa and the role of the UN human rights framework’
The Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom (WILPF) and CARE International, are holding a side on the occasion of the 24th Session of the UN Human Rights Council.
Location: Room XXVII – Palais des Nations (UN registration needed)
Date: 12 September, 15:00 - 17:00 – Followed by a drinks reception

Speakers include:

  • Sherine Ibrahim, CARE Middle East and North Africa Regional Management Unit
  • Zahra A. Langi, cofounder of Libyan women’s Platform for Peace and member of the Arab Women Think Tank
  • Iman Mandour, Member of Board of Trustees and Treasurer of the Center For Egyptian Women Legal Assistance (CEWLA)
  • Madeleine Rees, Secretary General at Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom (WILPF)

Note to editors

CARE International’s research

In the aftermath of the Arab Spring, CARE commissioned a study in 2012 and 2013 to understand the new context and identify ways in which we need to adapt and respond. More than 300 women and men were interviewed in the course of this research in Egypt, the occupied Palestinian territories, Morocco and Yemen. The report: ‘Arab Spring or Arab Autumn? Women’s political participation in the uprisings and beyond’ outlines the key findings and recommendations of relevance to international donors, as well as national authorities and other actors involved at the regional and country level. Copies in English, French and Arabic are available for download here from Thursday on.

Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom (WILPF)

In late 2011, one year after the public uprising started in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region, WILPF International developed a program to advance women’s rights and women’s participation in addressing peace and security issues in the region. For the last two years WILPF and its strategic partners in Iraq, Libya, Tunisia, Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon, Yemen and Morocco has challenged the increased militarism and analysed the root causes of the escalating violence and insecurities in the MENA region. Each country has its own agenda and specific challenges, but what all eight countries have in common is that, historically, women’s rights have been subordinate to men’s power. Moreover, as a result of this, women in the region face heavy obstacles that prevent them from participating in the public sphere and they are excluded from the decision making process concerning peace and security.

Media Contacts and to arrange interviews:

Sandra Bulling, CARE International Communications Officer,, +41 79 2056951 Sherine Ibrahim, CARE Middle East Deputy Director, is available for interviews.
Barbro Svedberg, WILPF Project Manager,, +41 (0) 22 919 70 80
Zahra Langhi, cofounder of Libyan women’s Platform for Peace and member of the Arab Women Think Tank, is available for interviews

Sherine Ibrahim has worked in international development for eighteen years, starting her work as a researcher in Egypt on women’s sexual and reproductive health rights. Since then, Sherine has worked extensively in Egypt, South Asia, the US and Middle East. Sherine holds Masters Degrees from the American University in Cairo and from the London School of Economics and Political Science. Currently holding the position of Deputy Director for Regional Programmes for CARE International across the Middle East and North Africa she is responsible for ensuring the quality of CARE’s programmes in the region and she works extensively on promoting gender equality and girls and women’s empowerment. Zahra Langhi is the cofounder of Libyan women’s Platform for Peace and member of the Arab Women Think Tank. A gender specialist, civil society strategist, political activist advocating for human rights and youths’ and women’s leadership, scholar and researcher in the field of Middle Eastern history and culture, she is a senior advisor for the Ministry of Culture and Civil Society. As a civil society strategist, Ms Langhi’s chief concern has been geared towards providing and building a vision for the diverse component and forces of Libyan society, especially women and youth, in relation to redefining its selfhood, peace building, and rebuilding democratic institutions.

About CARE

Founded in 1945, CARE is a humanitarian organisation fighting global poverty and providing lifesaving assistance in emergencies. CARE places special focus on working alongside poor girls and women because, equipped with the proper resources, they have the power to help lift whole families and entire communities out of poverty. For more information, visit

About the Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom (WILPF)

WILPF is an international women’s peace organisation founded in 1915 as a protest to the killing and destruction of the war then raging in Europe. WILPF’s mission is to prevent war, ensure that women are represented at all levels in the peace-building process, defend the human rights of women, and promote social, economic and political justice. Based on almost 100 years of experience, WILPF’s work today draws on the expertise and commitment of our sections in 34 countries, with over 120 local branches. For more information, visit