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Climate change and women’s health and rights: women voices from MENA

December 11, 2023

The Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region faces severe climate change impacts, with rising temperatures, water scarcity, desertification and extreme weather events. It is projected to experience high rates of warming, with a potential 4°C increase by 2071–2100 (UNICEF, 2022). Rising heat and humidity levels may exceed the limits of human tolerance. The region also grapples with social inequities, conflicts, poverty, water scarcity and gender inequality. Climate change exacerbates these challenges, acting as a 'threat multiplier' that reinforces existing inequalities. Gendered impacts of climate change are evident, especially in relation to sexual and reproductive health and rights (SRHR). SRHR, including family planning and reproductive choices, are crucial for overall wellbeing, but climate change is affecting bodily autonomy and reproductive decisions, particularly for women and girls.Despite the evident effects of climate change in the region, which disproportionately affect women and girls, there is a significant lack of evidence on how climate change impacts their SRHR and access to sexual and reproductive health services. The primary objective of this research is therefore to thoroughly examine and understand the relationship and interconnection between SRHR and climate change in the MENA region, drawing insights from the lived experiences of women, including young women, across the region. Building upon these real-life experiences and a comprehensive literature review, the research proposes essential recommendations for the stronger integration of gender-sensitive policies and financing mechanisms to enhance women's resilience and adaptive capacity in addressing the impacts of climate change. Simultaneously, they aim to improve women's access to SRHR services while addressing systemic gender inequalities, discrimination and exclusion.

Breadbasket to Bread Lines: Global Food Security After the Russian Invasion of Ukraine

April 1, 2022

Global food prices were already rising significantly before the invasion of Ukraine. The invasion, however, has set off another round of price increases for basic foodstuffs including grains (notably wheat) and cooking oils such as sunflower oil. As the invasion continues into the spring planting season, pushing many Ukrainian farmers off their farms, the effects could easily become dire: the UN has warned of the distinct consequences of a severe food crisis later this year in many countries around the world, notably in the Middle East and Africa, with millions of people at risk of food insecurity because of higher prices and lack of supply.The Conference Board first addressed this broad subject of food security on March 15 with a paper asking "What If Russia/Ukraine Grain Trade Halts?" That paper stated that Russia and Ukraine together "supply 16 percent of global exports of grains" and examined current global "stockpiles that can be tapped for exports, and the capacity of internal infrastructure and labor to facilitate ramped up trade. India, the US, and the EU appear uniquely positioned to step in to feed the world." However, the paper also noted that "[t]he human suffering of the war in Ukraine could potentially extend out exponentially to the rest of the globe by exacerbating global food insecurity. The armed conflict . . . could seriously disrupt production and exports of grain to very vulnerable countries."This Policy Brief supplements that paper as the war has continued and also focuses on several specific issues regarding the serious prospect of global food insecurity, with particularly strong impacts in regions including the Middle East and Africa. 

The Decade of Defiance & Resistance: Reflections On Arab Revolutionary Uprisings And Responses From 2010 – 2020

May 26, 2021

The dynamics fostered by the wars and revolutions plaguing many Arab states today represent the most consequential national transformations since World War I, culminating in a period of civilian defiance and resistance that was especially distinct between 2010 – 2020. Despite being pauperized by predatory governments, citizens have challenged their heavily militarized states, emerging to fight battles that have been brewing for decades. Both the protesting citizens in the streets and the hardline governments that try to blunt their momentum are highly motivated. The outcome of these historic confrontations remains unclear. Yet, it is already possible to identify the causes, actors, motivations, and tactics on both sides that have fueled the waves of rebellion and repression over the past decade. Since the start of the 2010 – 2011 uprisings across the Arab world – the so-called "Arab Spring" – long-term transformations in the mindsets and actions of citizens have emerged that have the potential to catalyze political change across the region for decades to come, shaping political relationships between the governed and governors.

Strengthening A Region Through Education

September 16, 2019

This GrantCraft case study, developed for Candid's Scholarships for Change portal (, explores Al Ghurair Foundation for Education's STEM Scholars Program. The scholarship aims to increase access for underserved populations to high-quality education throughout the Middle East & North Africa region. Two years into its journey, the Scholars program strategy has made measurable progress on three student outcomes: expanding underserved youth's access to education, improving their college and career readiness, and increasing skills development; as well as three community outcomes: cultivating a new cadre of young leaders, empowering youth to rewrite the Arab story, and encouraging scholars to take part in regional philanthropy.

Girls, The Agents of Change

April 2, 2019

Funding for adolescent girls has been gaining traction in recent years. While feminist funders have traditionally focused on women and young people, there has been a drive to put more flexible funding in the hands of girl-led and girl-centered organisations. This evaluation reviews and assesses the With and For Girls Collective, the With and For Girls Award and the awards journey with a view to drawing out lessons from the Collective's experience to help encourage funders to increase flexible funding and other resources to girl-led and girl-centered organisations globally.

Mapping the Landscape of Scholarships and Fellowships in Egypt

November 1, 2018

The Ford Foundation's International Fellowship Program (IFP), launched in 2001, enabled hundreds of bright and ambitious young people around the globe to complete their graduate studies and become enterprising leaders of civil society organizations in their home countries. After the program came to an end in 2013, there was a growing gap between the number of Egyptian students who wished to complete their graduate studies abroad and the supply of fellowships that would make it possible for them to do so. Government-sponsored study abroad opportunities sought to address some of the disparities between supply and demand, but their impact was modest. Meanwhile, the burgeoning Egyptian philanthropy sector and private foundations sought to make a substantial difference, driven by their strong interest in developing the leadership capacity of young Egyptians. As a philanthropy with a long track record in Egypt, including many years of engaging with higher education there, the Ford Foundation saw this changing landscape as an opportune moment for reflection and analysis. This report, Mapping the Landscape: Scholarships and Fellowships in Egypt, is an effort to understand the main players and trends of funding programs for Egyptians today—with an eye to the future.

Fellowships and Research Grants Programs in the Middle East and North Africa: An Overview

May 15, 2018

From the 1970s to the present, the Ford Foundation's investment in fellowship and research grant programs in the Middle East and North Africa has expanded access to high-level academic and professional opportunities, particularly for marginalized groups. How effective have these efforts been in advancing progress toward broader goals, such as network building, expanding the pool of social justice leaders, leveling the playing field for disadvantaged populations, and laying the groundwork for more equitable public policies? In this report, program officer Moushira Elgeziri reviews four major programs, outlines their successes and shortfalls, and distills a set of lessons that can inform the design of current and future awards programs. The report underscores the importance of defining target populations and disciplinary scope, while remaining receptive—and responsive—to constituency needs as they arise. It points to potential missteps for programs attempting to become less dependent on primary funders. And it stresses the need to develop ways to gauge the more intangible and less immediate impacts these programs have on individuals and their communities.

Now is the Time: Research on Gender Justice, Conflict and Fragility in the Middle East and North Africa

June 2, 2017

This study examines the impact of fragility and conflict on gender justice and women's rights in the MENA, as a part of an Oxfam project entitled 'Promoting the Needs of Women in Conflict in the Middle East and North Africa' funded through the UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office. It specifically aims to understand how conflict and fragility in four different contexts - Egypt, Iraq, the Occupied Palestinian Territory and Yemen - have impacted the realization of gender equality and gender justice in the past several years of political and social upheaval. 

Primary Microplastics in the Oceans: A Global Evaluation of Sources

March 20, 2017

Plastic has penetrated everyday life, and the disadvantages of plastics are becoming more and more visible: large quantities of plastics leak into rivers and oceans, with adverse effects to marine ecosystems and related economic activities. This report is one of the first of its kind to quantify primary microplastics leakage and to demonstrate that these primary microplastics are globally responsible for a major source of plastics in the oceans.

Women, Peace and Security in the Middle East and North Africa Region: Factsheet

February 16, 2016

Political upheaval, instability and conflict have been on the rise in the Middle East and North Africa following the uprisings that swept the region in 2011. Women and girls face particular challenges to their basic human rights. This factsheet gives an overview of the status of women in the region, focusing on two key themes: violence against women and girls in conflict, and women's political participation and leadership. It highlights the different manifestations of gender-based threats and risks that women face, including increased sexual violence, forced and early marriage, and rape in the context of conflict. The factsheet also discusses the implementation of United Nations Security Council Resolution 1325 (Women, Peace and Security) and the extent of progress towards its goals in the Middle East and North Africa, looking at the limited number of women in decision making and peace processes.

MENA Region and the Possible Beginning of World System Reconfiguration

January 1, 2016

This chapter offers a thorough analysis of the internal conditions in the MENA countries on the eve of the Arab Spring, as well as causes and consequences of the Arab Revolutions. The chapter also offers ananalysis of similar historical World System reconfigurations starting with the 16th century Reformation.The analysis is based on the theory (developed by the authors) of the periodical catch-ups experienced by the political component of the World System that tends to lag behind the World System economic component. Thus, we show that the asynchrony of development of various functional subsystems of the World System is a cause of the synchrony of major political changes. In other words, within the globalization process, political transformations tend to lag far behind economic transformations. And such lags cannot constantly increase, the gaps are eventually bridged, but in not quite a smooth way. The chapter also suggests an explanation why the current catch-up of the World System political component started in the MENA region.

Women's Empowerment in Lebanon: Impact evaluation of the project 'Women's access to justice in the Middle East and North Africa region'

November 12, 2015

This evaluation is presented as part of the Effectiveness Review Series 2014/15, selected for review under the women's empowerment thematic area. This report documents the findings of a quasi-experimental impact evaluation carried out in December 2014 that sought to assess the impact of project activities, implemented at individual and community level, on women's empowerment. This project was carried out in three countries: Lebanon, Jordan, and Iraq; the evaluation focuses on the project component in Lebanon only. While there is no unique set of women's empowerment characteristics that are applicable to all contexts, this evaluation identified a set of empowerment characteristics which are considered to be important in this particular context, even if not all are necessarily directly linked to the project activities.The main objective of this project was to contribute to improving the status and lives of women and girls in the Middle East and North Africa region by improving the quality of legal services for poor and vulnerable women. Key activities included providing awareness raising sessions for women and community leaders such as political parties, religious leaders and municipal employers; training and engaging women and men for raising awareness; offering free legal consultations to women; and raising awareness around women's rights among lawyers and judges.For more information, the data for this effectiveness review is available through the UK Data Service. Read more about the Oxfam Effectiveness Reviews.