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Back in 2009 I produced a research paper and policy analysis on gender equality while working for the Luxembourg Government in Northern Nicaragua. Having recently set-up this blog, I would like to use this space to share the results of this research.

The project I was working with focused on encouraging socioeconomic development through tourism, using community and participatory processes. These processes involved setting up committees in both departments and municipals across Northern Nicaragua. These committees were responsible for building development plans for their region, as such setting the aims, aspirations and means for this development. The committees were also responsible for administration of some aspects of the project’s funds, such as spending on departmental infrastructure and selection of beneficiaries for a micro-credit scheme.

The report I produced analysed the project data, looking both at its employees and committee members, to assess the extent to which gender equality was part of this development process. The full report is available (in Spanish) at the end of this post. However, I would like to point out here, a few interesting highlights.

1. Although the participants in the project’s committees were largely made up of equal numbers of men and women,  it became apparent that men were more likely to take on leadership roles within these committees and in most cases the Presidents of the committees were men.

2. Although men and women participated equally in the training provided by the project, men dominated the courses on business management, while women were the main recipients in the courses on cooking. The demonstrated a gendered approach, based on traditional roles in Nicaragua.

3. Despite a policy which encouraged the hiring of women, two-thirds of consultants contracted by the project were men.

4. Women involved in the project pointed out a higher sense of self-esteem from being involved in the project, which translated into their home life.

5. Women also pointed out that it was harder for women to participate due to issues such as childcare, the responsibility for which primarily fell on them.

The recommendations made by this study, included:

1. Better monitoring of gender issues within project operations;

2. Provision of daycare and other facilities to allow women with children to more easily participate;

3. Taking an approach which attempts to counter gender stereotypes in the roles that women assume within the project.

Full study available to download, in Spanish, shortly.


Women were largely excluded from the first post-revolution constitution drafting process. Many arguments have been made regarding women’s rights, but I attempt to make a case for why women including women makes sense in terms of economic and social development. The full article is available here at: Egypt Independent.

I have been reading a lot in the Egyptian press about women’s rights in the Middle East. From the state of the women movements, the ‘Virginity Test’ trial verdict, the sad case of the suicide of Amina Filali in Morocco to International Women’s day protests. Yet, reading these posts, it often seems that there is something missing: a repetition of the same old story and the same frustrating lack of solutions.

Women are certainly being discriminated against and denied the same opportunities as men in the region. A quick glance at the statistics is enough to confirm this story, yet that does not offer an explanation as to why this pattern exists and continues to exist and how this can be effectively addressed. It seems unsatisfying and incomplete to keep pointing out that women need more rights in the Middle East and North Africa. That has already been said.

While I understand the logical legal, political and social histories and context which has produced these circumstances, I feel that there are many questions which still remain. While the explanations of a patriarchal society, Islamic or old European laws, and political discrimination offer some insight into the current situation, they do not somehow seem to quite fully explain the full extent of the discrimination, its reach into so many aspects of women’s lives or how they have been persisted for so long.

Another aspect of the debate which is concerning is the way it divides men and women. Women’s rights in North Africa are not the concern of men. They are claimed by women for women and therefore claimed against men. This turns the situation into a battle ground and creates the idea that women are attempting to take rights from men.

I don’t propose to offer solutions to these questions in this quick post. I have begun investigating a few article ideas on this subject. I want to investigate what initiatives exist current exist; what other explanations are there for the current divisions; what solutions offer possibility of real change; and how does discrimination against women damage the state as a whole. I wish to shed new light on this issue. We already know that women do not have equal rights, it is time to dig deeper.


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