Social justice — a fundamental value of social democracy and a central field of action of the Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung (FES) in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region — is inextricably linked to the question of gender justice. Social and economic development can only be sustainable and just if it considers and includes the needs of everyone equally. The goal of FES’ work on gender justice in the region is for every member of society to have the freedom to choose different ways of being and living based on a just distribution of resources, equal opportunities to exert influence, and equal respect, regardless of gender.
Even though women and men are constitutionally equal in many countries, legally established rights do not automatically break down traditional role models or lead to social, economic, and political change. Women’s political, economic, and social rights and their participation in society are still severely limited. Women are underrepresented in parliaments in the Middle East and North Africa and rarely hold political office. Women are affected by poverty more often than men and are subject to discrimination, for example in family law. Violence against women is still widespread.
To promote gender justice in the MENA region, the FES pursues various approaches. Women are specifically supported where patriarchal structures and traditional role models restrict their participation in political, economic, and social life. This includes projects that inform women about their rights or aim to incorporate gender policy issues into political and social debates in partner countries.
The promotion of equal opportunities and gender justice is a cross-cutting task. In the projects implemented by FES in the region, a gender perspective is therefore included from the very beginning. To this end, methodological approaches such as gender analyses and gender mainstreaming are consistently applied in the planning and implementation of activities.
ThePolitical Feminism programme was established in Beirut in 2018 and focuses on advancing gender justice advocacy on the regional level as well as mainstreaming intersectional feminist approaches and solutions in public discourses across the Middle East and North Africa. The programme especially focuses on re-politicising feminist movements and on promoting the principles of feminist economics as tools to address gender, environmental, and social justice issues.