Women’s groups join forces to support COVID-19 response in the Arab States

Date: Tuesday, September 15, 2020

From the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, an active group of civil society organizations (CSOs) working on gender equality and women’s empowerment across the Arab States, has come together to discuss the challenges facing women during the COVID-19 pandemic, and to plan how to inform response and recovery efforts in the region.

The “Arab States Civil Society Organizations and Feminists Network” currently comprises 25 active CSOs and women’s grassroots organizations from Bahrain, Egypt, Iraq, Jordan, Lebanon, Libya, Morocco, Palestine, Tunisia and Yemen.

Established in response to the COVID-19 crisis with support from UN Women Regional Office for the Arab States, the Network aims to create a strong voice for women in the Arab States region, provide policy recommendations to governments, and share best practices of successful interventions undertaken by civil society groups in response to the pandemic.

“In the context of the COVID-19 pandemic, strengthening partnerships with women-led and feminist CSOs has become even more crucial, to ensure that women are front and centre in the response and recovery efforts at national, regional and global levels,” says Dr. Moez Doraid, UN Women Regional Director a.i. for the Arab States.

Founded on the premise that strength lies in diversity and inclusiveness, the Network brings together representatives from organizations working with persons with disabilities; women migrants; the women, peace, and security agenda; LGBTQI populations; and youth. The network also includes renowned feminists; representatives from the global Generation Equality Forum governance structures; former Ministers and former members of women’s machineries from the region; and former government advisors.

Civil society voices


Fatema Khafagy

Member of UN Women’s global Civil Society Advisory Group (CSAG) on Beijing+25 and the Generation Equality Forum

Coordinator, Arab Women’s Network for Parity and Solidarity

"UN Women is supporting the CSO network to meet regularly not only facilitating all logistical matters but also linking us with other relevant groups and stakeholders from all over the world, providing us regularly with up-to-date related statements, resolutions, studies and research which help us in shaping our strategies and in moving forward. I think the work relationship between the feminist civil society in the Arab Region and UN Women is a showcase of feminist solidarity.”


Nuha Muhreiz

President, Women Helping Women Network


“I look forward to this network being able to represent a women’s movement, a voice and echo to improve the status of women in the Arab States, and that this movement be supported to implement projects and produce reports that reflect the reality and capabilities of women in the region to support citizen and refugee women and enhance their resilience and participation in peacebuilding.”


Lina Abou Habib

Senior Policy Fellow, Issam Fares Institute for Public Policy and International Affairs, American University of Beirut


“The COVID-19 pandemic, despite its devastating impact and expected consequences, may have also created a precious window of opportunity for all of us to realize that we share the same struggles and that only by working together in a participatory and inclusive way and within a framework of intersectional feminism, we can develop collective solutions.”


Shirine Jurdi

Gender Focal Point for the MENA region, Global Partnership for the Prevention of Armed Conflict (GPPAC), Executive member, WILPF-Lebanon


“The way in which the discussions are being held puts everyone at an equal footing, walking the talk towards gender equality in the region. I look forward to seeing this group act as a nucleus to bring the needs and interests of women in the region to this platform and from there to the international. A platform of women, for women, by women in the Arab States.”


Hala Bugaighis

Co-founder and Director, Jusoor Center for Studies and Development


“This initiative has managed to create a safe and supportive network for women’s organizations that includes women from across the region. More importantly, youth are strongly present, and they are leading the conversation and initiatives. Joining a network of like-minded CSOs has given us deep insight into the situation in the region and on the work conducted to support women during the pandemic.”


Amani Aruri

Member of the Beijing+25 Global Youth Taskforce, and the Gender Innovation Agora


"The network serves as the umbrella that combines prominent CSOs with extensive experience in addressing gender issues across the Arab region in light of COVID-19 crisis, with support and dedication from UN Women. It’s a critical time to have a unified voice to ensure that we are heard, and to combine our resources, experience and capacities to stand for the rights of Arab women and girls, especially amidst the exacerbation of domestic violence and violations of women’s rights across the region.”


Fatima Outaleb

Human Rights and Advocacy Activist


“The CSO network is the alternative and the only opportunity to carry on work and reach out to communities in these turbulent times. As for the role of the network, I see it as a very practical, as a less consuming and inclusive way to react collectively and address the multiple challenges posed by COVID-19. In this era, digital advocacy and lobbying have proved to be the most effective way of voicing out the rise of violence and denouncing abuse and pressing authorities to take action”

Read more about our work with civil society in the Arab States.