Category Archives: Middle East and North Africa

Giving Women a Voice in Pakistan’s Media


Watch an interview with Tasneem Ahmar conducted by CIPE Program Officer Jennifer Anderson.

It is widely accepted by development experts that women are a largely untapped source of potential around the world. Women constitute approximately 50 percent of the human population and whether talking about political, economic, or social development, they have the ability to contribute vast advancements. However, in many countries around the world, women are excluded from participating in meaningful ways. In Pakistan, CIPE friend and partner Tasneem Ahmar is working through the media to change the perception of women in order to increase their ability to contribute to the nation’s development.

Having been raised in a family of media professionals, Tasneem discovered early on that women were not portrayed the same as men in print and broadcast media, leading to an undervaluing of women as a whole. Using Pakistan’s recent elections as an example, she has described how women candidates were only portrayed as objects with the main topics of discussion focusing around their wardrobe, hairstyles, and accessories rather than meaningful conversation about their stance on the issues. In an effort to change this pattern and change Pakistani perceptions, Tasneem established the Uks Research Center in 1997.  

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Entrepreneurial Training Programs for Bahraini Youth

Manama-nightview

In Bahrain, young people – those under 25 years of age – make up nearly half of the population. To create enough jobs for Bahrain’s youth, entrepreneurs and aspiring businesspeople will need to equip themselves with the necessary skills that will allow them to thrive in a dynamic global economy. A number of entrepreneurship initiatives have grown up to respond to this need. These include programs offered by Tamkeen, the Bahrain Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Bahrain Polytechnic, the University of Bahrain, and the Bahrain Development Bank.

Established in 2006 as part of Bahrain Economic Vision 2030, Tamkeen’s mission is to support Bahrain’s private sector to become the main driver of economic development in the country. Tamkeen’s programs have benefited more than 100,000 Bahrainis, and in 2013 alone, Tamkeen assisted more than 600 startups. Its programs include: a business incubator; the “Mashroo3i” Youth Business Plan Competition for students between ages 16 and 23; and programs for secondary and university students which are offered with INJAZ and AIESEC.

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Bread for the Masses: Economic Empowerment to Achieve Social Justice in Egypt

800px-The_lion_of_Egyptian_revolution_(Qasr_al-Nil_Bridge)-edit2

This is the third in a three-part series addressing recent findings of the Arab Barometer, whose objectives include the production of scientifically reliable data on the political attitudes of ordinary citizens. Read the previous two posts about the Arab Barometer findings in Iraq and Jordan.

“Bread, Freedom, Social Justice” was the unified chant that filled Cairo’s Tahrir Square in January 2011. Almost four years later, this call for bread,– for dignified livelihoods — remains a driving force for sustainable economic reforms that can open financial opportunities for all citizens, create jobs for the burgeoning youth population, bolster the suffering economy, and ultimately take steps towards achieving social justice in Egypt.

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Street Politics Aren’t Enough: Careful Economic Reform Will Foster Democracy and Stability in Jordan

Jordanians protest over food prices in 2011. Source: The Guardian.

Jordanians protest over food prices in 2011.
Source: The Guardian.

This blog is the second in a three-part series addressing recent findings of the Arab Barometer, whose objectives include the production of scientifically reliable data on the political attitudes of ordinary citizens. Read the first part, about Iraq, here.

By James Stricker

In Jordan, economic factors have played an important role in political stability since 2011. Jordanians as a whole consider economic rights to be a core component of democracy.  This is demonstrated by the fact that most public protests began as a response to economic grievances. The trend corresponds strongly with the Arab Barometer’s recent MENA opinion poll results: throughout the region, Arabs are at least as concerned with securing their economic rights as they are with securing political rights.

As the Arab Spring gained momentum in Egypt, Tunisia, Libya and Yemen, a number of protests sprang up throughout Jordan in 2011. However, the most prevalent slogans were not against the regime itself, nor were they about securing more political rights.  Instead, Jordanians who took to the streets voiced their frustrations with price inflation and corruption.

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Iraq: Where Everything Else Divides, the Economy Can Unite

afrobarometer-iraqThis blog is the first in a three-part series addressing recent findings of the Arab Barometer, whose objectives include the production of scientifically reliable data on the political attitudes of ordinary citizens.

For Iraq, bombing ISIS out of existence is impossible and counterintuitive. Job creation that drives balanced economic growth, on the other hand, is not only feasible but badly needed. The policy narratives may be slowly shifting away from a security focus towards a holistic reform that prioritizes job creation. Academics, development experts, and even the U.S. President are beginning to realize that providing economic outlets for Iraqis, particularly potential militants, to put food on the table and send their children to school might be the long-term silver bullet.

This should not be a difficult message to sell: economic opportunity – not martyrdom, not anti-Western ideology, not even the Syrian Civil War – is far and away the most important issue for all Arabs whether they are for, against, or undecided about ISIS. Below is an analysis of three recent opinion polls showing that, whereas much remains to divide the Iraqi people, job creation continues to unite them and should be the thrust of coalition-building and reconstruction efforts emanating from Baghdad and Washington.

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An Historic Agreement: Public-Private Partnership to Safeguard Yemen’s Future

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The stakes are high in Yemen’s ongoing political transition, but recently the Yemeni government and private sector took steps to ensure that this transition will lead to greater security and opportunity for all Yemenis.

Yemen’s recent history has been marked by popular demand for better governance and a more democratic policymaking process. This demand has been seen from the 2011 popular uprisings, to political demonstrations, grassroots activism, and widespread participation in the National Dialogue Conference. Meanwhile, the price of ignoring these demands and of failing to listen to sensible recommendations for improving governance, security, and the economy has been illustrated by ongoing instability throughout the country.

On November 18, a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between the Government of Yemen and the Yemeni private sector was signed, establishing a public-private partnership to foster an enabling environment for business creation and youth employment, a step that is unprecedented in that country. This event marked an important step toward inclusive governance and effective policymaking in Yemen. Such cooperation between the government and non-governmental sectors like the business community is vital to ensuring that Yemeni citizens can participate in the democratic process, which is necessary to promote inclusive economic development, security, and employment, and to reduce violence and extremism.

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Helping Syrian Refugees Rebuild Their Lives With More Than Just Aid

800px-Syrian_refugee_camp_on_theTurkish_border

By James Stricker

Turkey has been one of the most welcoming countries for Syrian refugees since the civil war began there in 2011.  In the early days of the conflict, Turkey declared an “open border policy,” allowing Syrians to enter the country largely uninhibited. Now, in the second half of 2014, the refugee crisis shows no sign of being resolved – while the strife in Syria has only intensified. More than 1.5 million Syrian refugees now live in Turkey, according to the UNHCR, including more than 135,000 who arrived within the span of five days as ISIS stepped up its assaults in Syria.

This sudden influx will almost certainly add to the challenges that many Syrian refugees are facing, but civil society organizations, like CIPE’s partner the Syrian Economic Forum (SEF), are rising to the occasion. SEF is an economic think-tank with an office in Gaziantep, Turkey, that monitors and analyzes economic developments in Syria and informs the debates concerning Syria’s future from a democratic, free-market oriented, and pluralistic perspective.

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