Eye on Civil Society: The Arab Foundation for Freedoms and Equality

Eye on Civil Society: The Arab Foundation for Freedoms and Equality
Fri, 03/01/2013

The Arab Foundation for Freedoms and Equality (AFE) is an officially registered non-governmental organization based in Beirut, Lebanon that works in the MENA region.

AFE supports grassroots activist groups and organizations that are working on a wide range of initiatives including human rights, gender and sexual health. AFE provides a comprehensive package of opportunities for Regional Partners.

The vision of AFE is to have a civil society that is strong, independent of political and financial pressures, free to conduct its work on equality, freedoms, and human rights in a safe environment.
Building a society with a strong sense of citizenship and belonging that does not discriminate in its fight for its people’s rights, for change, and not afraid to make the changes.
The aim of the foundation is to become a learning platform and knowledge exchange for gender and sexual rights activists in the Middle East and North Africa.

The Arab Foundation for Freedoms and Equality has three different programs that reflect its mission: Social Change Program, Security Program and Research & Resource Center program.

AFE’s Social Change Program is a yearlong program that provides individuals, groups and/or organizations in the Arab World with both theoretical and practical training in the areas of gender, sexuality, and organizing for social change.

There are numerous individuals starting to organize across the region around gender and sexual rights and freedoms, though they are motivated, The overall objective of the program is address the need of these activists and to create highly informed and motivated leaders who will affect social change within their communities in the areas of gender and sexual rights. The program does so by:

  • Integrating theory and practice in thematic areas
  • Providing opportunities of peer learning
  • Creating venues for inter-regional exchange
  • Creating the basis for thematic internships within the region
  • Establishing a mentorship program

Resource center: While there are a number of women’s studies institutes in the Arab region, resource and research centers focused specifically on gender and sexuality, as they exist in other parts of the world, are notably absent from the Middle East and North Africa (MENA). The result is a paucity of material on gender and sexuality in the Arab region in Arabic. AFE aims to fill this gap.
As part of AFE’s goal to support the movement for sexual rights and protections across MENA, AFE is building a Resource and Research Center (RRC) (to be launched later this year) to help address the knowledge gaps and create an alternative site of knowledge production in the MENA, generating content in Arabic. By providing an easily accessible and comprehensive repository of information and knowledge, this initiative will not only aid activists and academics in their work, but also inform and enrich the evolving discourse on sexual and bodily rights in the region. The Center will complement AFE’s ongoing projects, among them the Social Change Program and the Security and Protections Program

AFE takes a compressive approach in working with nascent sexual rights activists across MENA, which includes development of security and protection programs for activists at risk because of the work that they do. As well as supporting activists working on gender and sexuality in emergencies.

AFE implements neither advocacy nor awareness programs in order to achieve the change in the MENA region, we do not address the MENA region as one entity and we are aware that each country has its own specificities and needs however the region needs a platform of knowledge and experience sharing allowing activists to learn from previous diverse experiences In the region and provide them with tools to build strategies according to their local needs and avoid redundancy.