FFF Intensifies Support for Pakistan’s 2013 Elections
May 9, 2013
In the past few months, the Foundation for the Future’s Pakistani grantees have been intensifying their efforts to educate and register approximately 86 million of Pakistan’s 92 million eligible voters for National and Provincial elections on May 11, 2013. This election will determine 272 of the National Assembly seats, as well as the representatives of the Lower House of Parliament and the Provincial Assemblies in the Punjab, Sindh, Baluchistan, and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. The national representatives will then elect the Prime Minister of Pakistan and the provincial representatives will elect the Chief Ministers of Pakistan, one for each of Pakistan’s seven “provinces.”
Experts predict that no single political party will secure the 172 seats to form a majority in the National Assembly, therefore requiring the formation of a coalition government. Worryingly, thus far, supposed pro-Taliban coalitions and anti-Taliban coalitions are in a close race, and since April 2011, five Taliban-related terrorist attacks have been committed at secular parties’ election rallies. Analysts expect this election to revolve around concrete domestic issues, particularly the economy, in contrast to the 2002 elections that brought a pro-Musharraf party (PML-Q) and a provincial religious coalition to power, who relied on the anti-American sentiment after the Afghani invasion, and the 2008 elections that brought more anti-Musharraf forces to power (PPP and PML-N). In 2013, the leading PPP and PML-N will likely find themselves joined in a coalition government to a rising third party, the PTI.
This year’s election will particularly revolve around youth, as approximately 39 of the 86 million registered voters, or 45.3%, are between the ages of 18 and 35. For 30 million of these 39 young voters, or roughly 77%, it will be their first time voting. The leading parties are aware of this, and have formulated special policies to target youth, like loan and laptop programs, and an increase in social media presence.
Women, on the other hand, are reserved 60 seats of the 272 in the national assembly according to the constitution and make up roughly 43% of registered voters, but many in more rural areas are forbidden from voting by their husbands and villages. Only 40% of polling stations are women only, and in more rural areas, husbands and villages justify their prohibition on women’s voting on the lack of women’s polling stations in their area. It is hoped that the 2013 elections will improve upon the 2008 women’s turnout, when in 564 of Pakistan’s 64,000 polling districts, not a single woman voted. Nevertheless, the past national assembly made a number of official strides towards protecting women’s rights, including passing acts against acid attacks, workplace harassment, forced marriages, and creating a commission of girl’s and women’s rights. As the attacks on schoolgirls like Malala Yousafzai show, however, the actual enforcement of women’s rights protections must be improve.
Faced with a plethora of internal and external challenges, a peaceful transition of power through free and fair elections with the full participation of women and youth is essential for strengthening the democratic institutions in Pakistan. Keeping in mind the importance of the upcoming general elections, the opinion of the masses, especially youth and women, will be instrumental in shaping Pakistan’s future political landscape. Hence, the Foundation’s grantees’ work is vital to strengthening initiatives that will keep youth and women aware and active throughout the electoral process.
The Foundation for the Future (FFF) is supporting two projects working to ensure an effective electoral process on May 11, 2013. The National Research and Development Foundation (NRDF) is operating in the volatile province of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KPK) to increase female voter turnout in six districts. The project uses a series of community advocacy sessions and dialogue as well as print & electronic media to encourage women’s participation. Similarly, the Development Dimension Society (DDS) is concentrating on the Punjab province and has recently conducted a comprehensive survey of 1,500 women in two districts to understand the forces that are discouraging female electoral participation. The results of the survey were shared with political representatives and mitigating measures were recommended to ensure high turnout of female voters.
World Press Freedom Day Statement
May 1, 2013
On the occasion of the 2013 World Press Freedom Day, the Foundation for the Future reiterates its support for freedom of expression and media. It is a UN tradition celebrated since 1993 on the anniversary of the Declaration of Windhoek, and this year we join the UN in marking the fundamental principles of press freedom and in protecting media from intrusions to its independence while defending journalists from all sorts of assaults and violence.
The so called Arab Spring did indeed bring some opportunities for advancing media freedom in the region with the explosion of new outlets, but, meanwhile, the past year has stirred repercussions against media professionals. For example, it was reported by MADA, one of the Foundation’s grantees in Palestine, that three journalists lost their lives in Gaza during confrontations with IDF troops, with 200 more violations occurring throughout the territories. In Egypt, famous bloggers like Alaa Abdel Fattah have been arrested for “inciting aggression” against the ruling Muslim Brotherhood, and the recently-established Egypt Independent newspaper announced its closure. And of course, the Syrian conflict has claimed the lives of 28 local and international journalists, more than any other country in 2012.
Also in 2012, the Foundation has partnered with 6 organizations in Pakistan, Palestine, Egypt, and Lebanon who are working directly for further the cause of press freedom in the region, as well as many others who have harnessed the power of new and old media to spread their messages of democracy and human rights. Recognizing the freedom of press as a necessary precondition to achieving a just and transparent democratic region, we congratulate these grantees’ initiatives and call upon all governments, especially those in transition, to create societies in which independent journalists can complete their job freely and without fear.
Commending Major Step Forward in Women's Status, FFF Hails the New UN Declaration for its Protection from Violence
March 21, 2013
The Foundation for the Future proclaims its strong support for passing the new declaration calling on governments around the globe to intensify efforts towards protecting women from the escalating violence. “We join voices with all those who really care to make a change in the status and well-being of women as responsible and efficient members in their families and within their communities” Mrs. Nabila Hamza, the President of the Foundation, said in a statement on the occasion. Calling on the governments of the MENA countries, “additional measures should be undertaken for reinforcing this new declaration as more brutality and violence are being witnessed in the region. The Foundation has been actively working in to improve all issues related to Human Rights, democracy and women empowerment and participation”, she added.
The Foundation has been condemning all ill-practices against women with particular reference to the sexual harassment of Egyptian women in Tahrir Square, Malala Yousafazi’s shooting at the hands of Pakistani Taliban, and the rape of an Indian women riding a bus, examples of incidents that inspired international indignation and brought nations together at the UN’s 57th meeting of the Commission on the Status of Women. The meeting aimed to denounce all acts of violence against women and alert governments to assume their responsibilities to stop such cruel behavior and reinforce women’s status in their respective countries.
Over fifteen projects initiated by civil society organizations on continuing domestic violence against women around the MENA region have been supported by the Foundation for the Future as part of its goal to support original and inspiring initiatives, gender equality, and women’s rights.
The Foundation for the Future notes that this declaration is non-binding, but strongly believes that it still sets an important global precedent, giving women’s rights activists in the MENA region yet another tool to fight for their rights.
The declaration addressed a number of intersecting issues, as the Commission “recognizes the linkages between violence against women and girls and other issues, such as education, health, HIV and AIDS, poverty eradication, food security, peace and security, humanitarian assistance and crime prevention.” Hence, it urges states to empower women by strengthening their full participation in education, political life, and the workplace. It also compels states to give women full control over their economic resources and movement, allowing them to inherit and to own property. States should also review, enact, and enforce regulations about the minimum age of consent and marriage, female genital mutilation, and sexual abuse. In the case of rape and human trafficking, states must address all women’s physical, mental, sexual, and reproductive health consequences for the victims; ensure their access to justice; and ensure liability of perpetrators.
FFF Praises the Reinvigorated Arab Women’s Movement
March 7th, 2013
Arab women are once again taking a step towards equality, addressing the social and institutional forces that are colluding to exclude women from the process of change and political transition in the MENA region. On the occasion of International Women’s Day, we especially honor Arab women’s continuing struggle for freedom and equality, and note that women’s status in the region has not improved in the past year. Today, the Foundation for the Future bears witness to an unprecedented feminist activism, one which is united in decisively denouncing patriarchal aggression and demanding full inclusion for women in the emerging democracies.
The Foundation for the Future is also speaking out against the institutionalized sexual aggressions that Egyptian women have been suffering lately, aggression that is met with total impunity. At the same time, we condemn laws that continue to denigrate women’s status, including laws that promote early marriage in Saudi Arabia and Yemen or allow rapists to marry their victims to avoid jail. The Foundation calls for the defense of public spaces and insists that the question of gender not be relegated to a secondary priority in the reform process, because without women’s equality, democratic society is impossible.
The Foundation reiterates its unwavering support for each and every one of the women that are joining the cause every day. This support is not reserved for traditional civil society organizations, our partners, and networks that are working to safeguard women’s progress, but is also extended to the incredible spontaneous feminist movements that have exploded into the political scene.
The revolutions and the winds of change in the region have not favored the bettering of women’s status, but Arab women have still managed to achieve humble legal and political changes. For example, we have seen massive protests in Tunisia and Egypt of women opposing any constitutional draft that did not guarantee women’s rights. In addition, the Moroccan feminist movement has organized itself against the law that allows rapists to avoid jail if they marry their victims, visibilizing the situation and recently succeeding in reforming the law. Most importantly, however, these actions have mobilized women that had never before participated in politics and have opened a public space for women that they will not soon give up.
We would also like to emphasize the remarkable efforts of women in the Gulf, where isolation has served to silence news about the worsening situation of women in those countries. Nonetheless, we are starting to hear various voices speaking out against these abuses, and their efforts are slowly changing society. Saudi Arabia, for example, has permitted for the first time women’s inclusion in the Shura Council.
Our call for equality extends to the entire BMENA region, even to Pakistan and Afghanistan, critical countries where the Foundation is deeply involved. In 2012, we heard the sad story of Malala Yousufazi, a 14-year-old Pakistani girl who was shot by the Taliban for daring to claim her right to education. FFF reiterates its condemnation of any violence against women perpetrated by radical groups.
After reflecting on many negative trends of 2012, the Foundation emphasizes that while the path towards equality is long and hard, we are convinced that the emerging feminist activists we support will succeed in building the basis of a true egalitarian democracy.
In going forward, Arab women must be careful to build national, regional and international coalition and networks. Solidarity with other women’s movements is essential. Women in the region need to achieve consensus on common issues and build coalitions to ensure that the promises that politicians made to gain women’s support during the transition are actually translated into concrete action. We need new blood and new expertise, and an elite women’s movement has to become a popular one. We need to bring young women and men to our cause. We have to invest in social media and create transnational campaigns for women’s rights.
To attest to the Foundation's efforts, several grantees contributed their own statements to explain how their projects were conceived and how the Foundation for the Future is helping them execute them.
11th Board Meeting Convenes in Amman
From the 27th to the 28th of January, the Foundation for the Future’s board gathered in Amman to discuss the successes of 2012 and strategize for the year to come. A number of new grants were approved--in transitioning countries like Libya and Tunisia in addition to the rest of the region--and brainstorming began for a new strategic plan to guide the Foundation through to 2015. In addition, board members explored the possibility of new partnerships with regional and external donors.
First, however, Ms. Nabila Hamza, President of the Foundation, gave a brief overview of regional and Foundation events in 2012, saying:
The dramatic changes and popular protests that began in Tunisia in 2010 and extended throughout the region have related directly to the Foundation’s mission of promoting civil society and democratization. In many transitional countries like Egypt, Libya, Tunisia, and Yemen, citizens took to the ballot boxes to elect new parliaments and presidents, setting in motion constitution-writing processes. In Tunisia and Egypt, citizens have had a central role in shaping these constitutions, whether by taking to the streets to demand women’s rights, engaging in public dialogue, or surveying their compatriots on their expectations for the future.
In the wake of the Arab Spring, the number of CSOs ballooned in some of the countries in the region. In Tunisia for example, the 9,600 organizations existing pre-uprising have now grown to an estimated 13,000. Supporting new and emerging CSOs became one of the Foundation’s priorities in 2012, through opening field offices in Tunisia and Libya, offering extensive training and capacity building programs, organizing debates and discussion groups, and providing financial and operational backing.
In numbers, Ms. Hamza informed the Board that the Foundation has sponsored:
- 5 regional and international conferences to encourage dialogue on local governance, non-violent resistance, and electoral funding
- 4 civil society mapping studies in Algeria, Libya, Tunisia, and Jordan
- 1 exploratory study on MENA networks’ strengths and weaknesses
- 2 new field offices in Tunisia and Libya with the support of Swiss and Danish funding
- 12 nascent Tunisian CSOs were funded with our new seed grant approach (LINK)
- 6 trainings were conducted in Tunisia on CSO management and non-violent solutions
- 7 trainings were conducted in Libya on electoral monitoring, journalism, and CSO management
- $3.6 million awarded to grantees throughout 2012
As 2013 begins, the board has approved 40 new grants or new phases for successful existing grantee projects. These new grants address a number of emerging problems in the region, such as the upcoming elections in Pakistan, democratic transition, dialogue, or the growing need for regional networks. In addition, the Foundation has renewed its commitment to the growing number of nascent CSOs in transitioning countries like Libya and Tunisia, and has extended its small/ seed grants program to Libya and awarded a second round of seed grants in Tunisia. Supported by a generous Danish fund, the seed grants in Libya will follow the Tunisian pilot project’s example and focus on projects outside of the main urban centers of Tripoli and Benghazi. To further address the need for flexibility in grants making during these volatile times, a new program called “The President’s Fund” will allow the Foundation to react immediately to emerging grants needs in 2013.
Finally, the board tasked one of its newest members, Dr. Rama Mani, with constructing a new strategic plan to carry the Foundation through to 2015. After a period of study and conversation with Foundation management, she will present an innovative new plan that will allow the Foundation to continue to play an important role as a global convener of civil society actors, bringing together organizations and stakeholders to share information, exchange knowledge and participate in discussion and dialogue. The Foundation will also continue to construct spaces to amplify the voice of civil society and to take collective action, while generating and sharing insider knowledge of civil society in the region.
Foundation President Attends the 9th Annual Forum for the Future in Tunisia
January 17, 2013
This year from December 12th through the 13th, the US and the Republic of Tunisia hosted the 9th Annual Forum for the Future that brings together over 100 representatives from the 31 member countries of the G8 BMENA Initiative plus two non-member countries, senior government officials as well as 45 civil society activists and private sector representatives to discuss developments in women’s empowerment, economic governance, entrepreneurship, and freedom of expression and association.
This year, in a historic move, all ministers in attendance approved the Forum’s Final Declaration, which addressed the past year’s violence; democratic transitions; and the need for further economic development, gender equality and anti-corruption measures. Most importantly, the Declaration captures the reaffirmation by the ministers to strengthen the respect for rights to peacefully assemble; the importance of respecting the rule of law; and full and equal participation of all people regardless of race, sex or religion.
Since the first Forum in Rabat in 2004, civil society groups and lead partner countries have collaborated to make significant advances in transparency and good governance, democratic participation, women's empowerment, legal reform, and human rights in the BMENA region. This year, the meeting specifically sought to make progress on past civil society recommendations, create more meaningful civil society-government interactions and the regional and national level, and seek more specific actions and commitments from member states and organizations.
Past civil society recommendations have included requesting the G8 countries work towards the resolution of the Arab-Israeli conflict, condemn human rights violations, support the efforts of regional civil society and youth, and devise a follow-up mechanism to evaluate the Forum’s efforts. The regional civil society organizations in attendance had also pledged to work towards gender equality in their national constitutions; accede to international human rights treaties; empower youth; match skills and employment; encourage corporate social responsibility; build and open and fair system of economics, justice, and association; ease immigration restrictions; and bolster legal protections for journalists, bloggers, and other advocates for freedom of speech.
The Foundation for the Future was proud to participate as a civil society representative in the Forum, especially given that the Foundation itself was chartered during the 2nd Annual Forum for the Future meeting in Manama, Bahrain 7 years ago. Today, the Foundation operates autonomously from the Forum’s processes but works on similar goals as the Forum and shares its intimate knowledge of regional civil society.
In Focus: A Step Forward for Saudi Women’s Rights
January 14, 2013
On January 10th, the news of neighboring Saudi Arabia’s newest step forward in women’s rights had just broken. Though Saudi King Abdullah had recently promised further steps for women’s rights after his September 2011 declaration granting women the right to vote and stand as candidates in the 2015 elections, his most recent announcement was still a pleasant surprise. As Ms. Nabila Hamza excitedly addressed the new developments in her HRITC (Human Rights Information Training Center, Yemen) conference speech that same day in Amman, so too is the Foundation for the Future pleased to see that the king appointed 30 female members to the upcoming 150 member Shura Council. Though the council does not have law-making powers, it is hoped that the ascension of such illustrious women as Ms. Thurya Obaid, the first Arab woman to hold a UN post, and Ms. Khawlah Al Krie, one of the kingdom’s leading cancer researchers, will show the public that women are capable of serving in a “man’s” role.
Although these developments are very positive, the kingdom still has much work ahead of it before achieving full gender equality. This is a country where woman are unable to drive and live under the protection of their male guardians. This is also the country that recently shocked the world with a news story about a 15-year-old girl who fled her home two days after her marriage to a 90-year-old man. The Foundation for the Future hopes that the king’s recent political allowances for women will slowly lead to a transformation of Saudi society as well so that the previously-mentioned human rights violations can be eradicated.
Arab Women Break Silence About Sexual Violence
25 November 2012
Ever since the Arab Spring swept away decades of authoritarianism in the region, Arab women too have intensified their calls to eliminate the social authoritarianism that holds sway over their life. In July, activists in Amman, Jordan and Cairo, Egypt formed human chains and carried signs with slogans like, “My life is more important than my family’s honor” and “No to silence in the face of sexual harassment.” Earlier this year, a Facebook campaign called “I am with the uprising of Women in the Arab world because…” has gone viral, with participants sending in photographs of themselves holding pieces of paper with written statements meant as a call to conscience and action. Finally, four of the Foundation for the Future’s past and present grantees, including Appropriate Communications Techniques for Development (ACT), the Egyptian Association for Community Participation Enhancement (EACPE), the Egyptian Center for Women’s Rights (ECWR), and the Association for the Development and Enhancement of Women (ADEW) are leading the movement for women’s rights in Egypt, which will culminated in a vigil in front of the Federal Palace in Cairo on October 4th, 2012. The 37 participating organizations presented President Mohammed Morsi with a document detailing their demands and have inspired a popular vigilante campaign that targets the perpetrators of street harassment against women.
The topic of violence against women and widespread discrimination in the Arab region was once a taboo topic, restricted to the agendas of human rights activists, but now everyday women have joined in the struggle. Many of the countries in the MENA region share discriminatory legislation that limits women’s inheritance, right to divorce, right to pass on nationality, and provides leniency to perpetrators of “honor crimes.” Today, however, we bring light to their struggle as well as that of women around the world by joining the UN in its celebration of the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women.
UN Secretary General Ban-Ki Moon, speaking on the occasion, said, “from battlefield to home, on the streets, at school, in the workplace or in their community, up to 70 per cent of women experience physical or sexual violence at some point in their lifetime.” Though the phenomenon is further complicated by a culture of impunity and shame, today at least 125 countries outlaw domestic violence. Since 1999, the UN has celebrated this day, following in the tradition of the CEDAW declaration of 1993, which defines violence against women as “gender-based violence that results in, or is likely to result in, physical, sexual, or psychological harm or suffering to women, including threats of such acts, coercion or arbitrary deprivation of liberty, whether occurring in public or private life.”
The Foundation is proud to support a number of projects throughout the Broader Middle East to combat violence against women and girls. Of the 16 steps to eliminating violence against women identified by the UN, the Foundation has focused on collecting, analyzing, and disseminating national data; enhancing women’s economic empowerment; increasing public awareness; engaging the mass media; mobilizing men and boys; making justice accessible to women and girls; adopting and enforcing laws; and ensuring universal access to critical services.
For example, in Pakistan, where the Aurat Foundation estimates 1 Pakistani women every minute falls victim to domestic violence, the Foundation supports the Civil Society Human and Institutional Development Program (CHIP) and its attempt to train women on laws protecting women, family law, conflict resolution, assertiveness and decision-making, and income generation. Other events like 4 quiz nights about women’s rights and 17 puppet shows highlighting the importance of women’s education and inclusion in decision-making captured the attention of 123 men and 1215 children, in addition to 545 women. Thanks to its outreach efforts, CHIP discovered that many women survivors of violence (WSVs) lacked the National Identity Cards necessary to receive public services and so helped 30 women file for and receive the cards. In Lebanon, our partner Beit el Hanan has established a women’s shelter in Beirut and is training service providers in standardized procedures for dealing with abused women and children who arrive at the shelter. Finally, AVIFE in Algeria was created to support and provide assistance to women and children victims of violence who call its center. It has also provided training throughout the country and lobbies for stricter laws to address gender-based violence by publicizing its research on instances of violence.
Please join the Foundation for the Future in recognizing the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women and refer to our website for further information on what we are doing to eliminate gender-based violence in the Broader Middle East.
Launch of FFF’s Grants Compendium: A Celebration of 5 Years of Empowering Civil Society
It began with a spark in Sidi Bouzid, Tunisia: public humiliation and economic stresses led a desperate man to set himself alight, inspiring waves of protests that swept away the regimes in Egypt, Tunisia, Libya, and Yemen and forever changed the political landscape of all others. But the Foundation for the Future was unsurprised by these events, recognizing the relevance and transformative power of civil society in the region long before the Arab Spring. For five years, the Foundation has positioned itself as a “region-based, region-focused,” politically neutral grant-maker, relying on an active information network made up of more than 1,000 civil society organizations, 13 on-the-ground liaison officers, and offices in three countries.
In celebration of our five-year anniversary of supporting a dynamic civil society and inspiring change in the Broader Middle East and North Africa region (BMENA), we are pleased to launch our Grants Compendium, a collection of abstracts highlighting the remarkable work of each of the Foundation’s grantees over the last five years. This Compendium is the Foundation’s way to not only support future Grantees looking to identify examples of innovative initiatives, but more importantly, to recognize their success in promoting human rights, democratic governance, and reform. The making of this Compendium has shown just how far the region has come over the last five years, but it has also emphasized the challenges that still remain.
THE IMPORTANCE OF CIVIL SOCIETY’S ROLE. These past two years have shown the rest of the world how critical it is to strengthen freedom, bolster democratic practices, and support those human rights advocates and activists who are seeking to create a new and progressive society. “Now more than ever,” emphasizes the Foundation’s President, Ms. Nabila Hamza, “civil society in the region must be supported and defended to make sure that the incredible transformation that started in the last few years does not fade away. It is through our grants program that we are able to support and incubate new, innovative initiatives across the region.” Alongside political parties, independent trade unions and think tanks, unfettered media, and genuine community-based groups, the contribution of CSOs is essential to make “people power” more effective and long-term and to sustain a complex transition process.
SEVERAL TOOLS AT OUR DISPOSAL. The Foundation’s grants program is one of several tools we offer to promote democratic principles, human rights, gender equality, and the rule of law in BMENA. Mr. Francesco Rosa, Chief Operating Officer, explains that “alongside knowledge sharing, capacity building and network facilitation, grant-making has been a key tool for the Foundation for the Future in pursuing its goal of strengthening BMENA Civil Society Organizations’ work. Demand-driven and local-ownership have been the two key principles inspiring the Foundation’s grant making from the start.”
The Foundation understood early on that assistance is most effective when we support local CSOs programs by acting as facilitators rather than as owners, and providing vital technical and financial assistance to locally-owned organizations. We consider locally-owned grantee organizations our fundamental partners in our efforts across the region. After all, they are our hands, eyes, and ears in the field. They are the ones who understand, live, and work with youth, women, and underprivileged populations in their communities. They are the ones who truly have an impact on people on the ground.
To help our grantees achieve their goals, the Foundation for the Future is grateful to its many donors for their steadfast support these past five years. Our donors have allowed us to commit over $20 million in grants to CSOs across the region over the past five years and expand our regional and theoretical mandate. Particularly in the past two years, the Foundation has increased its presence in previously under-represented areas and devised new strategies to address the explosion of nascent NGOs established after the Arab Spring.
LEARN MORE ABOUT THE COMPENDIUM. While waiting for the report to be published, please take a moment to browse our online database of projects to learn more about worthy initiatives in the region. For more information, please click here:
Malala Yousafzai---Symbol of Pakistani Women’s Development through Education
On the afternoon of October 9, 2012, a 14-year-old girl, Malala Yousafzai, from district Swat was shot in the head in her school van. The Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) claimed responsibility for the attack.
According to the information received, Malala was shot by three unidentified gunmen from the TTP, on a bus taking children home from school after a mid-term exam. The incident occurred in the city of Mingora situated in the Swat valley, Khyber Pakhtoonkhwa, Pakistan as the bus was coming from Khushal Public School. According to testimonies, the unidentified assailants got on the bus and asked the other children to point to Malala. She was shot in the head and a second shot hit her in the neck. Malala still lies unconscious in hospital, unaware that world leaders from U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon to U.S. President Barack Obama have pledged support.
The Taliban said that they had no intention of killing her but were forced to do so when she would not stop speaking against them. Malala actually angered the Taliban by speaking out for 'Western'-style girls' education. Moreover, they shot her near a military check-post to make the point they could strike anywhere. According to spokesperson of the banned Tehrik-e-Taliban, the group has now drawn up plans to target media groups and personalities who have denounced the Taliban in the wake of the attack on Malala. Her father, Ziauddin Yousufzai, the headmaster of a girls' school, is also on the TTP’s hit list for speaking against them and also for his activities to promote peace in the region and for encouraging his daughter.
The shooting of Malala Yousufzai was the culmination of years of campaigning that had pitted the fearless, smiling young girl against one of Pakistan's most ruthless Taliban commanders, Maulana Fazlullah. Fazlullah, known as 'Radio Mullah' for his fiery radio broadcasts when he took over Swat Valley, has ordered the closure of girls' schools throughout the country. Taliban has blown up more than a hundred girls’ schools.
Malala gained fame in early 2009 when the Urdu Website of BBC World Service was looking for a young girl to write about life under Swat Taliban. That was the time when Fazlullah had banned TV, music, and girls’ education, while the bodies of beheaded policemen were hanging from town squares. Malala was a 7th-grade student who kept a diary that was later published under the title "The Diary of a Pakistani Girl" with the pen name, "Gul Makki," for her protection. After the Taliban were driven out of the Swat valley in 2009, her real identity was made public. Her growing fame and determination to speak out for girls’ education put her on the Taliban radar and Fazlullah tried everything he could to silence her. The Taliban published death threats in the newspapers and slipped them under her door.
Malala became a celebrity in Pakistan in October 2011, when Desmond Tutu announced her nomination for an International Children’s prize. Soon after, the Pakistani government awarded her the first National Peace Prize in December 2011. Malala was also a speaker for the Child Assembly in Swat, an initiative supported by UNICEF in 2011.
FFF is proud to support Malala's vision by strengthening the capacity of women in District Swat through its grantee, HDPG, or the Human Development Promotion Group. In this project, progressive civil and religious minds were engaged to use Islamic teachings to sensitize 769 adult members of the target community on the importance of women’s involvement in social, political, and economic activities. Other Foundation grantees are making admirable progress throughout greater Pakistan by promoting women's rights, whether it's with the National Rural Development Foundation (NRDF) provision of literacy and life skills training for 635 women in Mardan, the Civil Society Human and Institutional Development Programme (CHIP)’s empowerment of gender-based violence victims in Punjab Province, or Alternative Initiatives for Development (AID) in Punjab Province’s training of 900 women on their legal and economic rights.
The Foundation for the Future also extends heart-felt prayers for Malala Yousufzai’s speedy recovery and hopes that she will continue to advocate for women’s education in the country.
2011 Annual Report Launched at Libyan, Lebanese and Palestinian Networking Events
In July 2012, Foundation for the Future celebrated the launching of its 2011 Annual Report and its 5 year anniversary of operation with networking events in Libya, Lebanon, and Palestine. Each event was attended by Foundation grantees, media, local and international government officials, and other local CSOs that left the session better informed about the Foundation’s mission and grants application process. Each host country is going through significant changes in the wake of the Arab Spring and the Foundation is seizing this opportunity to build partnerships with a variety of new actors.
The Foundation is proud to announce that it has awarded over $20 million USD since its inception in 2007, which has gone to support around 175 projects in 19 countries of the region to date. The Foundation’s visibility has been spreading rapidly, and since starting operations in 2007, it has received 967 project proposals, about a third of which were submitted in 2011 alone. Exceptionally, the Foundation’s portfolio of active projects in 2011 exceeded one hundred.
In 2011, the Foundation quickly responded to the socio-political changes in the region. Several fact-finding and field assessment missions were immediately carried out to Tunisia, Egypt and Libya once revolutions there became less restless. One of the most important results of the needs assessment missions was the decision to open field offices in Tunis and Tripoli, which will help to focus the Foundation’s operations and continued interaction with its counterparts on the ground.
In 2011, the Foundation was also proud to hold a conference in Iraq on the role of women in the Iraqi peace-building process, an event that was attended by more than 300 politicians and activists. It also hosted conferences on women’s rights in transitioning countries as well as on the violent and non-violent tactics used in the Arab Spring. One of the emerging fields that the Foundation has supported involves popular legal education and combating violence against women (VAW). Therefore, the Foundation is pleased to report that since inception, at least 13,331 people have been sensitized through legal literacy sessions and material and at least 14,024 women have learned about VAW through awareness campaigns, training sessions, posters and flyers. Finally, 3 hotlines to combat VAW have been established in the region, 2 new shelters have been built, 3 websites on VAW have been created, and 1198 professionals have been trained on VAW.
The Foundation was proud to share all of these success stories and more at its recent launching events throughout the region and looks forward to expanding its financial and technical support to civil society organizations (CSOs) working in the fields of Human Rights and democracy in the years to come.
As part of the Foundation’s celebration of 5 years in operation and the launch of the 2011 Annual Report, FFF organized its first event in Tripoli to launch its Annual Report, to announce the opening of its new office in Tripoli, and to launch its training and grants program in Libya. The event was also an opportunity for attendees to network and familiarize themselves with the new actors in the CSO field in the country. Invitees included representatives of the National Transitional Council, the Libyan government, local Libyan CSOs, international missions, the United Nations, the European Union, several diplomatic missions to Libya, media representatives, and activists.
As a symbolic beginning to these efforts, the Foundation for the Future celebrated the launching of its 2011 Annual Report in the Libyan capital of Tripoli as well as the opening of its new office in that city thanks to the support of Swiss and Danish funding. The event was held at the 5-star Al-Waddan Hotel on the evening of July 13th. The event started with a welcoming address by Ms. Suha Zakkout, the Chief Financial Officer of the Foundation, followed by a detailed presentation highlighting FFF's vision, mission and achievements in addition to its training program Libya. Next, Tamer Zumot, FFF Program Coordinator, launched the 2011 Annual Report and the newly-hired Libyan team introduced themselves to the audience. Finally, Dr. Walid Salhi gave a brief presentation about the FFF needs assessment study conducted in Libya.
After the Foundation’s exploratory mission at the end of 2011, it was clear that Libya deserved this focused attention. Muammar Ghaddafi’s 42-year regime crippled civil society and upon his fall, there were virtually no political parties, trade organizations, independent press, or other CSOs. Secondly, the country is wrought with tribal cleavages that will take years to mend and is overrun with formerly armed factions who need to be reintegrated into society or subject to justice. Finally, no Libyan under 60 has ever lived under a constitution and participated in national elections, which will require an enormous civic education program.
In spite of these challenges, Libyans are eager to build a new country. The National Transitional Council has been working on a new law for associations which is said to meet international standards. At the moment, the only requirements are the presentation of by-laws and a minimum of 15 members. 361 organizations have consequently been registered in Benghazi, with around 60 of them still truly active. Additionally, more than 500 were registered in Tripoli in the past 6 months. As these organizations shift from a focus on emergency humanitarian response, many will disband, but those that remain are in dire need of capacity building, training, and funding.
Though Libyan CSOs might prefer local sources of funding due to a common skepticism about the goals of international donors, local sources of funding are limited, especially as citizens are struggling to survive in a poor economy. The Foundation, at least, is a regional organization with the ability to assist Libyan CSOs in presenting themselves professionally to compete for funding from both it and international funders. These efforts will involve training in strategic planning, project development and management, leadership and consensus-building, civic and political education, advocacy campaigning, corruption and government monitoring, English language, and computer and new social media skills. To see video of the event, please click here.
On the morning of July 16th, Foundation Liaison Officer Zenia El Roueiheb and Communicatons Officer Dima Masri welcomed thirty participants to the Beirut Crowne Plaza Hotel for the Lebanese launching of the 2011 Annual Report. Foundation for the Future representatives Zenia El Roueiheb and Dima Masri first took the opportunity to present the thirty attendees, including Swiss Ambassador Ruth Flint and Representative to the Canadian Ambassador Anna Kapellas, with an overview of the Foundation’s identity, vision, and current work. Next, grantees Lebanese Transparency Association, Permanent Peace Movement, and Committee for Follow up on Women’s Issues presented concrete testimonials about the goals of their organizations and their partnership with the Foundation. Finally, attendees had the chance to network over coffee in the hotel lobby.
Compared to countries emerging from the Arab Spring, Lebanon has a history of having a rich civil society and today counts 5,523 national associations and 100 branches of international associations. Many of these organizations began during the civil war period from 1975-1990 and provided services that a failing state could not. Though the civil war may have ended two decades ago, its effects are still felt throughout Lebanese society. For example, civil society organizations in the country still grapple with how best to heal the wounds from a civil war that left 150,000 dead and reconcile societal factions when few Lebanese school history books even address the topic.
In addition, Lebanese CSOs attempt to improve transparency and freedom of expression in the country, fighting back against recent censorship of movies, the internet, and the like. The civil war has also left a sectarian legacy where matters like women’s rights and marriage are governed by individual religious orders rather than being protected by state guarantees. More recently, the country has played host to hundreds of thousands of Palestinian refugees who live in camps afflicted by poverty and violence with few government services. The experience is repeating itself as the Syrian conflict continues next door and thousands of refugees stream across the border, requiring emergency assistance but threatening the country’s fragile peace. Finally, the Lebanese economy and tourism sector have particularly suffered in the wake of the new government’s refusal to cooperate with a United Nations Special Tribunal investigating the late Prime Minister Rafik Hariri’s 2005 assassination.
Lebanese CSOs, therefore, must deal with a number of critical issues as a result of the country’s past and present turmoil, even though Lebanon may have escaped a full-fledged Arab Spring revolution. Therefore, the Foundation has sponsored a number of projects and regional conferences in the past few years, dealing with topics like encouraging humanitarian treatment among non-state actors, transitional justice, and freedom of expression. It continued its work promoting itself as a partner to Lebanese CSOs at the June 16th event in Beirut that celebrated the launching of the 2011 Annual Report and 5 years of operation in the BMENA region.
The event was covered by well-known Lebanese news outlet, the National News Agency (NNA), and Al-Rai al-Khass magazine. The former outlet distributes news to all media outlets in the country and published a short piece about the launching on its website the next day. To read the story in Arabic, please click here. http://www.nna-leb.gov.lb/newsDetail.aspx?categ=misc&id=423796
On the evening of July 18th, Foundation Liaison Officer Imad Hussein and Mrs. Zahira Kamal of the Foundation Board of Directors welcomed over 100 participants to the Ramallah Al-Khazami restaurant for the Palestinian launching of the 2011 Annual Report. Mrs. Kamal also serves as Director of the Palestinian Women Research and Documentation Center in UNESCO and has served as the PNA Minister of Women’s Affairs, among other positions.
Mrs. Kamal, therefore, was a valuable networking resource for the many attendees gathered at the event, including representatives of a number of diplomatic missions including the Foundation’s donor countries, representatives of the local media sources, and representatives and partners of the civil society and public sector in Palestine. These included officials from the Palestinian National Authority Ministries of Information, Youth and Sports, and Foreign Affairs; journalists from Palestinian Broadcasting Corporation TV, Radio Voice of Palestine, Ma'an news net, Panet News, and Palestine News Network ; employees of the French and American consulates; Foundation grantee organizations like Shams, MUSAWA, and Ramallah Center for Human Rights Studies; and representatives of international organizations like the UNDP, Chemonics International, and Journalists without Borders.
Though the Occupied Palestinian Territories (OPTs) receive some of the highest sums of international aid per capita in the world, accounting for two-thirds of its GDP, many problems still remain in Palestinian society at large. Palestinian CSOs still fight for freedom of press, transparency in the security sector, government accountability, a strengthened judicial branch, and a reversal of the rapidly increasing unemployment rate. However, much of the funding for these efforts is concentrated in organizations based in Jerusalem or Ramallah or goes to projects that duplicate the efforts of projects in other parts of the territories. Reasons for this include many international donors’ no-contact rule with Hamas, essentially cutting off the Gaza Strip from international efforts, and the obstacles to freedom of movement and obtaining permits for projects in the West Bank. These reasons make cooperation among local organizations especially crucial, so Foundation grantee organizations also attended a workshop prior to the launching event that aimed to facilitate networking and partnership. It is hoped that these efforts will increase the impact of CSO work in local communities as well as extend the geographical reach of individual projects.
As a result of the meeting, several Palestinian organizations have contacted Liaison Officer Mr. Hussein for more information on how to collaborate with the Foundation and apply for grants. PNA Minister Deputy of the Ministry of Information Mr. Mahmud Khalefa inquired after the possibility of the Foundation working in cooperation with his ministry to build the capacity of media institutions. Finally, two representatives from the American consulate have expressed interest in collaborating with Foundation for the Future on projects in Palestine, particularly in the Gaza strip.
Five Years Dedicated to Promote Human Rights and Democracy in MENA Region through more Capable Civil Society Organizations
Along with holding its 10th Board Meeting in Amman, theFoundation for the Future celebrated a number of occasions in an event organized on the evening of the 9th of June 2012. They include the Fifth Anniversary since the start of its operations, launching its 2011 Annual Report, which reflects the special circumstances of political transformations in the Arab region, and the important role civil society has played in these events. This is in addition to the expansion in the Foundation’s operations with establishing two Field Offices in Tunisia and Libya and the election of the new Chair of its Board of Directors.
The event gathered a number of heads of diplomatic missions including the Foundation’s donor countries, representatives of the local and foreign media sources, as well as representatives and partners of the civil society and public sector in Jordan.
The Fifth Anniversary Since the Foundation’s Operations Started
In adhering to its mandate that calls for promoting and strengthening civil society initiatives in their efforts to foster democracy and Human Rights in the BMENA region, the Foundation for the Future has provided over the past five years financial and technical support to civil society organizations (CSOs) working in the fields of Human Rights and democracy. To date, the total number of projects supported by the Foundation was around 175 projects in 19 countries of the region. Jordanian CSOs have a share of 19 projects in the areas of Human Rights, youth participation, civic education, women empowerment, media freedom, monitoring elections and the rule of law.
Technically, the Foundation’s support for the capacity building of CSOs working in related areas of interest has focused on enhancing CSOs’ abilities to have an effective role in social and political reform as well as their competence in their internal governance and project management.
The Foundation for the Future has been documenting a number of success stories from around the region that mark significant contributions towards creating positive changes to the lives of respective target groups, especially women and youth.
Launching the Foundation's 2011 Annual Report
A comprehensive presentation of the 2011 Annual Report was made by the President of Foundation; Mrs. Nabila Hamza where a number of milestones and achievements were highlighted. The report also includes information about the recent developments pertained to the Arab awakening, which has provided opportunities of participation and access to emerging CSOs, making 2011 an exceptional year in its outstanding events and possibilities for the Foundation’s interventions.
Exceptionally, the number of the Foundation-supported projects under implementation in a year has exceeded one hundred in 2011. Such an unprecedented increase in grants making in one-year, is the result of diligent efforts by the Foundation’s staff to consider all requests submitted by CSOs in the region, and analyze on the bases of realistic goals, plans and feasibility to qualify for support. A clear indication of the Foundation’s enhanced visibility and well needed operations, implying competence and maturity with steady interaction with the target groups.
On the other hand, the ongoing political change, known as the Arab Spring, played an important role in motivating a significant increase in the number of the region’s CSOs, which are in need support, especially in terms of technical assistance. The Foundation received 378 concept papers in 2011 alone, bringing the total number of proposals received since starting its operations in 2007to 967. This number is expected to continue increasing in 2012 with the expectations of declining violence and rising hopes for political stability throughout the region.
Expanding Operations by Establishing Field Offices in Tunisia and Libya
In 2011, the Foundation was at the fore front to respond to the socio-political changes in the region. Several fact-finding and field assessment missions were immediately carried out to Tunisia, Egypt and Libya once revolutions there became less restless.
Meetings took place with a considerable number of CSOs, particularly the emerging ones as a result of the change, with the aim to forge partnerships with those concerned for enhancing the adoption of Human Rights principles, and the culture of democracy throughout BMENA.
One of the most important results of the needs assessment missions was the decision to open field offices in each of Tunis and Tripoli, in order to focus the Foundation’s operations and continued interaction with the counterparts and respective CSOs on the ground. Work plans have been developed for these offices to oversee their implementation in close coordination and consultation with the Amman Office. Such an expansion in the Foundation operations wouldn’t have been possible without the support of the Swiss and Danish governments.
Electing a new Chair for the Foundation’s Board of Directors
Mrs. Nabila Hamza then presented the new Chair of the Foundation’s Board of Directors, Dr. Bakhtiar Amin, who was unanimously elected by the Board in the December 2011 meeting, to start his tenure in 2012. A Kurdish Iraqi politician served as Minister for Human Rights in the Transitional Government during 2004/2005, Dr. Amin was asked to help in establishing the Foundation. He is the fourth Chair replacing Dr. Cornelio Sommaruga who decided not to renew his term for personal reasons, but was unanimously voted to stay as Honorary Chair. This was in recognition of his special contributions in establishing the Foundation and advancing it as a highly efficient institution.
Dr. Amin had previously worked as an adviser to the Swedish Department of Immigration and Refugee Affairs, prior to which he was the NGO representative to the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights in Switzerland. He is the Executive Director and Founder of the International Alliance for Justice, which holds a network of 275 international non-governmental organizations from 120 countries.
Dr. Amin brings with him over 20 years of relevant experience in extensive international Human Rights and humanitarian work involving minorities, refugees and the uprooted, release of prisoners, women’s and Human Rights, conflict resolution, elimination of landmines and freedom of expression.
Mrs. Hamza also welcomed two new Board Members, Dr. Rama Mani, and French International Expert on peace, justice and human security, and Mr. Arnold Luethold, Swiss, Assistant Director of the Democratic Center for Armed Forces, and Head of Africa and Middle East Operations.
The Foundation Extends Operations by Establishing its New Arm in Tunisia
March 29, 2012
Since the beginning of the Tunisian revolution in December 2010, the Foundation for the Future has made relentless efforts to ensure the appropriate building of the capacity of civil society and be able to assume its significant role in making their country’s history trough the ongoing political transformation of democratic transition.
The opening of a sub-office for the Foundation in Tunis is an important mechanism on the ground to ensure direct consultation and interaction with the respective counterparts with the purpose of coordinating activities and projects targeting women association, nascent associations, policy makers and the media. This would not have been possible without the support the governments of Switzerland and Denmark and the confidence they have rendered to the Foundation for its commitment to enhance the role of civil society organization in Tunisia and Libya in support of the political change underway in these countries.
Among the first activities on the Action Plan of the new Foundation’s team in the Tunis office will be the organization of a capacity building training workshop in April 2012 targeting at least 20 participants representing emergent civil societies in the country. While the special attention will be given to raising awareness among the Tunisian women and youth, the main objective behind holding this workshop is to enhance a civil society network advocating for civic participation, human rights, local democracy governance and women empowerment.
Other activities will be focusing on youth exchange and seminar on society participation will help implementing capacity of activists’ leadership in Tunisia in the field of advocacy and lobbying for women rights.
Meanwhile, preparations are underway for establishing an office in Libya to oversee the Foundation’s work and contacts in the country as well as the implementation of related activities. A team has been assigned from staff-members, currently in Tripoli, to take charge of all administrative requirements and develop the milestones and networks necessary for ensuring an effective initiation of the operations there. This comes as part of the efforts the Foundation is launching in its support to the Libyan revolution and the important role local civil society is assuming.
Tunis Office Address:
Le Palace building
Third Floor Apartment B 3.5
Centre Urbain Nord-Tunis
For more information or a statement from our team, please contact Dima Masri, Communication Officer firstname.lastname@example.org/www.foundationforfuture.org
Women: Losers of the Arab Spring
Increased concern is expressed by the Foundation on the further segregation of Arab women as recent revolutions winding up.
On the occasion of the International Women’s Day, the Foundation for the Future anticipates more involvement of women in the ongoing democratic transition with forceful and vibrant voices in the new Middle East.
The Foundation has been full of optimism observing the crucial role women played in the forefront of uprisings that led to the revolutions in Tunisia, Yemen, Egypt, and Libya. This was particularly celebrated in the announcement of Bothayna Kamel as first female presidential candidate in Egypt, the Nobel Peace Prize award to three women: Tawakkul Karman of Yemen, Leymah Gbowee, a Liberian peace activist, and Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, the president of Liberia, and the march of millions of women to the streets claiming their essential rights and demanding full participation in the transitional process. The Foundation also welcomed the official decree of women’s suffrage in Saudi Arabia.
As we have been part of the success, we have been also part of the disappointment of women in this post-revolution era. Women participated, led and were a driving force in change during the past year, but as cultural and historical obstacles consistently hamper the efforts of men and women activists, the cause of women is still jeopardized.
A Foundation instantly took on needs assessment / facts finding missions to Tunisia, Egypt and Libya. Special emphasis was noted in respect of the new state of Libyan women with increased opportunities for their empowerment through civil society organizations. The Foundation discussed with over 100 CSOs representatives working mainly on women empowerment and youth, the current situation in Libya and assessed the needs of emerging CSOs. Libyan CSOs have been observed to be particularly keen to participate in building the state’s institutions and constitution, raise the awareness and participation of all sectors of the society with no prejudice.
In Egypt and Tunisia, women are still struggling to acquire their political rights. As the two countries are going through transition, women believe that it is the right time in history to make a change and reach their goals. We are yet to witness the results with new constitutions in progress.
Women in Yemen took to the streets peacefully as guided by the enthusiasm of and leadership of Tawakul Karaman. Although they have been a big part of the revolution, their goals and aspiration are still to be achieved.
Women as priority in the Foundation’s work in the Broader MENA Region
In 2010, women empowerment grants represented 24.1% of overall Foundation funding. This year, that figure rose to 31.4%. The Foundation for the Future is proud of this renewed energy—and we will remain committed to the cause of gender equality. This year we celebrate our first grantee in Afghanistan “Afghan Women’s Network (AWN) works on civic participation and economic and social rights.
Las mujeres, perdedoras de la Primavera Árabe
La Fundación para el Futuro se enfrenta a una creciente preocupación por la segregación de las mujeres árabes en los procesos pos revolucionarios de la región.
Con motivo del Día Internacional de la Mujer, la FFF expresa su deseo de promover una mayor implicación de la mujer en los procesos democráticos de transición mediante su potente voz en el Norte de África y Oriente Medio.
La Fundación ha sido optimista por el papel desempeñado por las mujeres en la vanguardia de las protestas que condujeron a las revoluciones de Túnez, Yemen, Egipto y Libia. En particular, celebra el anuncio de Bothayna Kamel como la primera mujer candidata en unas elecciones presidenciales en Egipto; la entrega del Nobel de la Paz a tres mujeres: Tawakkul Karman de Yemen, Leymah Gbowee, activista por la paz en Liberia y Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, presidenta de Liberia; y elogia el valor de millones de mujeres que salieron a la calle a exigir sus derechos fundamentales y su plena participación en los procesos de transición. La Fundación también acogió con satisfacción el decreto oficial de sufragio aprobado recientemente en Arabia Saudí.
Como hemos sido parte del éxito, ahora también somos parte de la decepción al percibir que están siendo relegadas a un segundo lugar en este momento posrevolucionario. Las mujeres participaron, lideraron y fueron una fuerza impulsora en el cambio del año pasado, pero debido a los obstáculos culturales e históricos, siguen en peligro.
FFF asumió de inmediato la necesidad de enviar una misión de evaluación a Túnez, Egipto y Libia. Hemos observado que la mujer libia tiene mayores oportunidades para el empoderamiento a través de las organizaciones que están surgiendo, en esta etapa, entre la sociedad civil. La Fundación conversó con más de 100 representantes que trabajan principalmente con la mujer y la juventud, analizó la situación actual en Libia y evaluó las necesidades de estas organizaciones emergentes. La mayoría se mostraron especialmente interesadas en la construcción de las instituciones del Estado y la Constitución, en aumentar la sensibilización y promover su participación de todos los sectores de la sociedad sin prejuicios.
En Egipto y Túnez, las mujeres siguen luchando por adquirir sus derechos políticos. Consideran que el periodo de transición es un momento histórico para implementar el cambio y alcanzar sus metas, pero todavía habrá que ver los resultados en las nuevas constituciones que se están elaborando.
Las mujeres en Yemen salieron a la calle pacíficamente, guiadas por el entusiasmo y el liderazgo de Tawakul Karaman. A pesar de que han sido una parte importante de la revolución, sus metas y aspiraciones todavía no se han alcanzado.
Mujeres, prioridad en la labor de la Fundación en la región BMENA
En 2010, las mujeres representaban el 24,1% de los beneficiarios de los fondos de la Fundación. En 2011, esta cifra se elevó al 31,4%. La Fundación para el Futuro tiene como objetivo seguir esta senda y focalizar en la causa por la igualdad de género. En 2011, también se iniciaron proyectos, por primera vez, en Afganistán con la "Red de Mujeres Afganas (AWN) que trabaja en la participación ciudadana y los derechos económicos y sociales.
La Fundación para el Futuro es una organización independiente, multilateral, sin ánimo de lucro que tiene como objetivo apoyar los esfuerzos de las organizaciones de la sociedad civil en la promoción de la democracia y los derechos humanos en la región BMENA (Norte de África, y Oriente Medio), respetando al mismo tiempo las características culturales de cada país.
Revolution+ 1: Tunisian civil society optimistic, committed, vigilant and prudent according to FFF survey findings
January 14, 2012
La version originale de cet article est disponible en français.
On January 14, 2011, Tunisian President Ben Ali left office, after a month of protests and popular uprisings that would sow the seeds of a political tsunami, the Arab Spring. While the country is celebrating the end of the "year zero", where the entire political system has been overhauled by a process of democratization and the election of a Constituent Assembly, it is interesting to explore the perceptions of one of the major players in this transition, civil society. Building on a successful similar experience in Egypt in August 2011, the Foundation for the Future invited representatives of NGOs, associations, unions, etc. to take part in a voluntary and web-based survey. Between December 22, 2011 and January 7, 2012, more than a hundred participants enthusiastically shared their opinions.
Tunisian civil society demonstrates cautious optimism when gauging the achievements of a first year of democratic transition. Civil society members have themselves taken an active role in the various episodes of the transition - demonstrations, dismantling of the Ben Ali regime, institutions of transition, elections, etc. - It makes sense then that optimism is the first and dominant reaction.
This context of optimism is also marked by greater freedom of expression and space for action for civil society. This is an important result, as a civil society free of its words and opinions is both a sign and a precondition of a viable and tangible democratic process. As one of the survey participants put it, "we live fully our freedom on all fronts". A majority of respondents noted a significant improvement in their environment and context of action: in fact, indisputable progress is perceived by the respondents on each of the six main factors of constraint or restriction (censorship, libel, imprisonment, harassment, logistical or administrative constraints). In other words, the January 14 Revolution has opened a more conducive context for CSOs to act. A clear example is that of censorship: it was, according to 73.9% of the respondents, the main constraint before January 14; it now impacts their work less than material and administrative obstacles. However, it is a concern that nearly 1 in 3 respondent states that the administrative and logistical constraints, as well as defamation and harassment, continue to be barriers in their daily activity.
Like the Tunisian population itself, civil society interviewees do not hide, beyond a more positive perception of the events of 2011, their disappointment, frustrations and doubts. Only 58% believe that the results of the transition are up to mark with the commitment of Tunisians in the Revolution and respond to their demands: insufficient and slow progress, post-election concerns, behind-the-scenes political deals seem to feed this disappointment. Two findings also sound as a strong warning: the place of youth and women in the democratization process is widely viewed as insufficient considering the level of engagement of these categories of population in the popular protest movement which has led to the departure of President Ben Ali.
A factor of hope, however: in the present context, 95.6% of respondents stated "[that] as a member of civil society, [they feel] more likely to be a factor for positive change for Tunisia”. They are even over 68% to "agree completely" with this statement. Signs of trust between authorities and civil society, and consultation efforts during the transition have placed civil society in a position of influence vis-à-vis the government. By perceiving itself unanimously as a "catalyst of change", civil society takes a conquering and confident attitude in the transition. It sees itself as a "political educator" of citizens (98%), champion of human rights (97%) and sentinel of democracy (90%). So it's no surprise that civil society wants to be associated or have a role in drafting the new constitution (91%).
On this matter, opinions are determined and strong. The respondents expressed a strong attachment to constitutional principles of “safeguard” such as the establishment of a Constitutional Court, a supra-constitutional Charter of Rights and Freedoms, and a formal recognition of the democratic nature of the State in the text the new Constitution. Independence of the judiciary, freedom of press and information, and balance of powers are the main "constitutional absolute priorities" for civil society. This can be interpreted as an attempt to assert formally the role of the “counter-powers” (Justice, media) and place above it all the principle of popular sovereignty by specifically demanding the adoption of the Constitution by referendum, in contrast to the recent vote of the Constituent Assembly on the subject.
Finally, on another hot debate of the moment - the place of religion in Tunisian society and politics - civil society expresses a clear preference for a political and constitutional system that is fundamentally secular, thus being in clear antagonism with the general population if one considers the results of the elections of October 23 and various opinion polls. 91.5% of respondents agreed that there must be a clear separation between religion and politics, and religion and government, and that the separation must also be mentioned at a constitutional level. 74.6% think that secularism is an “absolute constitutional priority”. The preference for a secular system does not stop there, as more than 9 in 10 respondents do not agree with the fact that political parties could have a “religious” color.
Constitution, election, transition, politics, and religion: all issues of major importance. However, civil society does not forget that if the Revolution could take place it is also because it was fueled by the frustrations and economic exclusion of large segments of the population. On civil society’s public policy agenda, the economy dominates: there is a unanimous understanding around the fact that job creation, employment and sound economic development should be the number one priority for any future government in Tunisia.
Without claiming victory, Tunisian civil society approaches the end of the first year of transition with a constructive attitude, ready to be a driving force and an incubator of ideas in a country that is reinventing its institutional and political identity. This is the message that today, the Foundation for the Future wishes to voice and spread.
The full report is available here (in French)
Foundation for the Future Concluded the 9th Board of Directors Meeting
10 December 2011
Foundation for the Future concluded its 9th Board of Directors Meeting on December 6-7, 2011 in Amman, Jordan.
The two-day meeting reviewed the current situation in the region with recognition to the significant role the Foundation continuous to play in supporting civil society organizations and their relevant initiatives for reinforcing the participation of women and youth in keeping the momentum of change in the region and ensuring its solid foundation throughout the region.
One of the important outcomes of the meeting was the decision by the Chair of the Foundation’s Board of Directors, Dr. Cornelio Sommaruga, a prominent Swiss diplomat and humanitarian actor, not to renew his mandate that will come to an end by December 31st, 2011. His vision, insight and dedicated efforts have significantly contributed to the Foundation’s initiation and progress since its inception in 2005. However, Dr. Sommaruga has kindly accepted the unanimous request of the Board to become an honorary Chair in consideration of his invaluable knowledge and guidance and his significant contributions since the Foundation started.
At the same time, Dr. Bakhtiar Amin was elected by the Board to be the new Chair replacing Dr. Sommaruga effective 1st January 2012. Dr. Amin, Iraqi, is a founding member of Foundation for the Future and has been committed to the Foundation’s vision and mandate since its creation. Dr. Amin previously served as the Minister of Human Rights of Iraq and Executive Director of the International Alliance for Justice (IAJ). He has 20 years of experience in the field of international Human Rights and humanitarian work and has worked extensively on issues involving minorities, indigenous peoples, women's rights, land mines, the International Criminal Court, freedom of expression and conflict resolution.
Also, the Board welcomed two new Board Members, Ms. Rama Mani, French, an internationally renowned expert on peace, justice and human security, and Mr. Arnold Luethold, Swiss, Assistant Director and Head of Middle East and North Africa Operations at the Geneva Centre for the Democratic Control of Armed Forces (DCAF).
The approval of a new batch of grants mainly to the countries that have seen democratic changes, illustrating the position of the Foundation as a leading grant-maker in the Broader Middle East and North Africa region, were among the important issues the Board discussed in its meeting. As a result, six new grants were approved from Jordan, Egypt, Tunisia and Libya focusing on Migrants Workers Rights, CSOs Capacity Building, Civil Participation and Democratic Governance.
The Foundation organized a farewell dinner on the honor of Dr. Cornelio Sommauruga as a leaving Chair of its Board of Directors, in an exclusive gathering attended by the Ambassador of Switzerland Mrs. Andrea Reichlin, along with a number of ambassadors and close friends in addition to the Foundation’s Board members and senior staff. A shield was presented to Dr. Sommaruga for his valuable contributions toward achieving the Foundation’s objectives and opening doors of opportunities for its work in the region. From his side, Dr. Sommaruga presented a special gift to the Foundation in memory of his work at the Board of Directors.
Foundation for the Future Participates in the 8th Forum for the Future in Kuwait
November 28, 2011
The 8th Forum for the Future was launched on Tuesday November 21st, 2011 in Kuwait. Co- Chaired by Kuwait and France, the opening session at Al Bayan Palace was addressed by Sheikh Sabah Al Ahmad Al Jaber Al Sabaah, the Amir of Kuwait, followed by Mr. Alain Juppe, The French Minister for Foreign Affairs.
The Forum brought together around 40 countries from the BMENA region and the G8, along with a number of partner countries. The Forum, attended by the Ministers of Foreign Affairs, Economy and Trade, as well as by a number of Civil Society Organizations, aims at increasing partnership opportunities between the 8 industrialized countries, the MENA countries and civil society.
French Foreign Minister Alain Juppe told the pro-democracy forum assembly: "A year after the start of the Arab Spring [...] states gathering here should show they do not fear the aspirations of their peoples and civil society," Juppe told the opening session of the eighth Forum for the Future.
The conferees tackled recommendations that resulted from a series of relevant workshops held throughout the year by relevant governments, authorities and civil organizations. The workshops had tackled three major topics: gender equality, social and economic programs, democracy establishment and the role of youth and civil associations. Sixty six recommendations arose in the last meeting in France; eleven were chosen to be introduced during the Forum.
Civil Society Organizations stressed the importance of strengthening CSOs’ solidarity to represent a stronger, more efficient front. They have also demanded creating new communication mechanisms between the governments and the CSOs to enable better dialogue and effective discussions. They also encouraged investing in youth and civil society to enhance their participation in the democratic transition process.
Dr. Bakhtiar Amin, FFF Board Member talked about the Foundation for the Future as a tangible outcome of the Forum for the Future. Dr. Amin insisted that the Foundation has proved particularly successful in the region over the past years in supporting CSOs in achieving their goals in promoting human rights and democratic values.
Tamara Wittes, U.S Deputy Assistant Secretary, NEAR Eastern Affairs, expressed her gratitude to the civil society and the governments for remaining engaged in the BMENA initiatives. She said “The real challenge is to implement the recommendations; the Foundation for the Future is a successful example of that. The next challenge is to get the Initiative of the Gender Institute moving forward during the coming year”.
Salah Al Ghazali, General Coordinator of the Civil Society and the Business Sector in Kuwait has elaborated on the great successes achieved by the Foundation for the Future in the BMENA region, as it reflects complete involvement with civil society and their endeavors. The Foundation is particularly efficient at listening to the needs of the civil societies everywhere in the region and at responding accordingly by offering support and assistance.
In a special session dedicated to the organizations created by the Forum for the Future, FFF’s President, Ms. Nabila Hamza, presented the role of the Foundation in the region as well as the challenges and opportunities that the Foundation has noted since the uprisings and the ones it expects to be faced within the future. Ms. Hamza is confident that the Foundation’s support to CSOs in the region will increase and thrive over the years to come.
The 9th session of the Forum for the Future will be held in 2012 in Tunisia under Tunisian-American chairmanship according to the decision made at the end of the forum in Kuwait.
The Forum for the Future was launched at the G8 summit in 2004 in the United States. Participating countries reaffirmed their commitment to promoting reform in the Middle East and North Africa region and pledged to assist in establishing a suitable environment for open and comprehensive dialogue.
FFF Congratulates Yemeni and Arab Women for Nobel Peace Prize of Tawakkul Karaman
9 October 2011
Tawakol Karaman, known to many activists as the Mother of the Revolution in Yemen, won the Nobel Peace Prize for 2011 last Friday. The prize was awarded to three influential women from Africa and the Middle East. Liberian President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, the first elected female president in post-colonial Africa, peace activist Leymah Gbowee, also from Liberia, and Tawakkol Karman, a leading figure in Yemen’s populist revolt this year who inspired thousands of women to rise up in a region and fight for their rights.
Shortly after the Arab Spring started with the Tunisian revolt in January of this year, Tawakol Karaman took the streets of Yemen and camped in a tent at the main square downtown Sanaa where she launched an uprising in Yemen pushing for similar change in her home country. Nine months later, residing at her tent she received the news of being awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for 2011.
In 2005, Karaman established “Women Journalists Without Chains” organization and started producing annual reports about freedom of journalism in Yemen detailing the violations against press freedom, She has long called for a culture of dialogue and political reform. She was always well known for her courage and daring to tell the truth and against violations of human rights.
Karman is the first Arab woman to win the Nobel Peace Prize and the fourth Arab after Sadat , Arafat and El Baradei. The 33 years old journalist from Taiz is the youngest recipients of the award worldwide. This prize came as recognition for the Arab women’s huge role in the protest across the region and "for their non-violent struggle for the safety of women and for women’s rights to full participation in peace-building work". Karman called the award “a victory for our revolution, for our methods, for our struggle, for all Yemeni youth, and all the youth in the Arab world — in Tunisia, in Egypt, everywhere.”
The Foundation takes pride in such great achievements by Arab women and congratulates all Nobel Prize Awardees for their historical victory. This is a defining line for our struggle of many years for equality of gender, democracy, women empowerment and pursuit for rights regionally and internationally “said Nabila Hamza, President of Foundation for the Future, “Only 12 women have had the honor of receiving this prize since its inception in 1901 and this is considered a stepping stone in the success that civil society activists can achieve and concur. Independent journalists utilizing mass media have a voice that is appreciated worldwide and can influence generations to come”.
The Foundation Deplores Harsh Imprisonment Sentences for Bahraini Activists and Health Professionals
6 October 2011
The Foundation for the Future is following with deep concern the recent political developments in Bahrain that have taken a new path in penalizing medical professionals for abiding by their humanitarian professional oath for providing necessary treatment to those injured during the ongoing unrest regardless of their religion, race or affiliation as stipulated in all international Human Rights declarations.
The Foundation had earlier on called upon the Bahraini government and opposition to engage in a true and genuine dialogue for reform. The spectrum of Bahraini citizens should be all represented in the new parliament through ensuring free and fair elections with no sectarian prejudice.
In spite of all humanitarian petitions, the Bahraini Military Appeal Court has endorsed last week a decision to sentence 21 medical professions and civilian activists, as well as teachers to life imprisonment for reasons in relations to the peaceful protest for freedom that has started in the Gulf kingdom over the past few months. The Foundation for the Future is stunned by such an act, which violates the basic principles of democracy and Human Rights against civil society groups and members who have paid a heavy price in their legitimate demand for larger freedoms in Bahrain.
The decision is the latest in a series of court hearings since June 2011, in which several activists and citizens have been sentenced to imprisonment. Among them not only doctors and nurses who have given medical aide to wounded protesters, but also bloggers, journalists and prominent Human Rights activists. Detainees are entitled to have all due procedural guarantees to defend their rights and access justice. The Foundation is profoundly alarmed over the arbitrary conditions of detention and trials, which are found to frequently contradict with the principles of fair and free hearing.
The Foundation strongly believes the decision on retrying medics in the country's highest civilian court instead of the military as lately stated by Bahrain's attorney general is not enough. However, it maintains that immediate release of all political detainees is crucial and reiterates its appeal to the Bahraini authorities to ensure that all parties engage in an inclusive dialogue for reform, while hoping that the recently declared state of emergency will terminate soon.
At a time political changes are underway in the whole Arab region, the Foundation hopes that Bahrain will allow the citizens’ calls for freedom and democracy to prosper in the foreseeable future.
Women in Saudi Arabia will vote for the first time in 2015
26 September 2011
In October 2004 the Saudi Minister of Interior has declared that women will not be allowed to vote in the country's municipal elections held in February 2005. This led many campaigners for women's rights to advocate even stronger for a substantial breakthrough for Saudi women’s rights. In recent months, some of them have even been seen driving cars, in brave opposition to a law which forbids them to do so. When, on September 25th, King Abdullah announced that women will have the right to vote and run for office in municipal elections, a door seemed to finally open up, bringing new hopes to end a long history of oppression, discrimination and inferiority for Saudi women.
This will however not come into force before 2015, and comes as part of the 'cautious reform' outlined by the King in his speech while acknowledging the contribution of women to society and Islamic history. Although women will not be voting for another four years, they will be invited to take part in the next Shura Council, a governing body that supervises legislation drafting.
“This announcement is a significant breakthrough for women and for their right to be equal citizens” says Foundation President Nabila Hamza, before adding that “there is still a long way to go for Saudi women. Their being allowed to vote should not overshadow the fact that constraints, restrictions and discriminations in their daily life still are a reality”. Indeed, Saudi Arabia is the only country in the world that actually denies women the right to vote by law, or be elected. In addition to the deprivation of political rights, women are prohibited from driving, attend schools for “male specific” fields, or participate in sports. They face the strict consequences of the guardianship laws. The World Economic Forum 2009 Global Gender Gap Report ranked Saudi Arabia 130th out of 134 countries for gender parity. At the time, Saudi Arabia was the only country to score a zero in the category of women political empowerment.
The Sultanate of Brunei, Lebanon, and the United Arab Emirates are the other three countries in the world where women face partial or total restriction from their voting rights. With Saudi Arabia soon to be taken off that list, it is a new perspective for women’s rights and gender equality that is emerging, an illustration that there can be no democratic development without the full and unrestricted participation of women.
Foundation for the Future Participates in the 8th Forum for Future Regional Workshop in Marrakesh, Morocco
The 8th Forum for the Future 3rd regional workshop was convened in Marrakesh, Morocco on September 17-18, 2011 with the participation of 100 representatives from BMENA civil society organizations.
The Forum for the Future is an annual gathering of BMENA and G8 representatives – governments, civil society as well as the private sector. Earlier this year, two regional workshops had already been convened; a first one on Gender Equality, in Kuwait, and a second one on Economic Development in France. The regional workshops are traditionally an opportunity for the Forum co-organizers to consult with civil society on issues of particular relevance in the BMENA region.
The third and last of the 3-workshop series of 2011 shed light on a very timely and important topic: "Building democracy: role and involvement of youth and civil society". Indeed, the social and political inclusion of youth has become a key challenge for countries across the region: The Arab Spring demonstrations were fundamentally organized by young people and were to a large extent a consequence of their frustrations and socio-economic disenfranchisement. Youth in the Middle East and North Africa are the largest segment of the population, representing up to 75% of the citizenry in certain countries. What they have been voicing since the beginning of the year is their claim to be equal citizens and take part in the democratic reform dialogue.
In this regard, civil society has a key role to play, and the Marrakesh workshop was the opportunity to highlight the possible role for CSOs in good governance, economic growth, human development, social cohesion and public policy-making. Some of the sessions of the regional workshop specifically discussed the changing dynamics of social and political participation in the region, with new youth groups and new forms of mobilization emerging.
The Foundation for the Future, closely associated to the Forum for the Future process in 2011 in particular, appreciated the thematic choices made by the organizers. Represented by its President, Ms. Nabila Hamza, the Foundation took the opportunity to remind participants of the importance to focus on core issues of political and democratic development, at times when the region is undergoing historical transformations. Ms. Hamza chaired the session on “Inclusion of youth and civil society in the public space”, and strongly highlighted the role that youth have taken in the recent political changes in the region. “A new generation of Arab citizens and new forms of civic engagement are emerging” she said, before reasserting the willingness of the Foundation to support these efforts of young citizens to create and bring about change.
Other civil society and media representatives who participated in the Marrakech workshop included Kuwaiti journalist Ibrahim Al-Mulaifi (head of the Kuwait Graduate's Society), Youssef El Bouhairi (Moroccan Association of Human Rights), Ghassan Sarhan (President of Bahrain Democratic Youth Society) and Mustafa Bushashi (Head of the Algerian League for the Defense of Human Rights).
Participants made a series of recommendations in the final workshop declaration. They called for further integration of youth in political action and for support to enhance their capabilities in this regard, through the creation of capacity-building centers. They also expressed the need to set up a fund to support youth initiatives, and to develop mechanisms to encourage and guarantee interaction and exchanges. The recommendations will be shared with the Ministerial delegates and should be reflected in the agenda for the 8th Forum for the Future to be held in Kuwait, on November 21-22.
The final recommendations of the Marrakesh workshop are available in English, French and Arabic
Foundation for the Future Deplores Six Months of Violent Repression of Citizens’ Claims for Freedom in Syria
15 September 2011
In mid-March 2011, thousands of Syrian citizens started taking to the streets to express their demands for freedom, justice and democracy. From Daraa to Hassakeh, Aleppo, Homs, Damascus, Idlib or Hama, they have been raising a voice for freedom and democracy. Inspired by the revolutionary uprising across the Middle East and North African region since the beginning of the year, they have continued since then to demonstrate and peacefully voice their claims.
The past six months have however been a long and intolerable series of tragic events for the Syrian people, with authorities and security forces showing an unacceptable and disproportionate use of force against peaceful protesters. UN Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay has confirmed earlier this week a death toll of at least of 2,600 victims. Local and international human rights groups are courageously reporting on acts of intimidation aimed at preventing the holding of peaceful gatherings; acts of arbitrary detention and enforced disappearances of political activists; acts of harassment of human rights defenders and retaliation against their relatives; acts of torture and ill-treatment. The Foundation for the Future deplores the widespread, systematic and violent repression against civilians.
The courage and perseverance of the Syrian people and civil society in this context is truly humbling. Despite the isolation of their country, they persevere in unity, across religious, ethnic and social boundaries. Their claims must be heard and respected. Authorities have to concretize their promises regarding the true end of the state of emergency, the instauration of a multiparty system, and a respect for freedoms. So far, there has been no genuine sign of change on these issues.
The Foundation for the Future calls for:
• a halt to exactions against civilians
• the immediate ending of any form of repression against peaceful demonstrators
• the prompt start of the independent Commission of Inquiry to investigate the repeated and serious crimes committed since the beginning of the year, and follow-up from the conclusions and demands from UN fact-finding missions and UN Human Rights Council principled resolution
A true dialogue for reform and a transitional agenda towards a truly democratic and inclusive Syrian State must start without further delay. Fundamental freedoms and basic human rights must be restored. The popular and overwhelming movement for freedom spreading across the Arab world should not be stopped at the Syrian borders.
Foundation for the Future Receives Consultative Status to the United Nations Economic and Social Council
14 September 2011
During its last Substantive Session of July 2011, the Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) of the United Nations (UN) has granted to the Foundation for the Future a “Special Consultative Status”. Special status is granted to organizations with a specialized knowledge in one subject or geographic area pertinent to UN activities.
ECOSOC was established under the United Nations Charter as the principal organ to coordinate economic, social, and related work of the 14 UN specialized agencies, functional commissions, five regional commissions and 11 UN funds and special programmes. The Council serves as the central forum for discussing international economic and social issues, and for formulating policy recommendations addressed to Member States and the United Nations system in regards to economic and social progress; cultural and educational cooperation and the respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms.
For the Foundation for the Future, the privilege of being granted special consultative status comes as a reward for internal efforts, but also as recognition of the work of the Foundation and its particular significance. Ms. Nabila Hamza, President of the Foundation, declared that “the Foundation is honored and proud to receive this decision from ECOSOC. It is a testament of the work done over the last five years and the acknowledgement that the Foundation is capable of contributing to international policy-making and dialogue”. The Foundation will now have the privilege to engage with the United Nations on issues such as human rights, freedoms, gender equality and justice. “At a time when the Arab world is undergoing unprecedented transformation, it is important that voices like ours are heard in international fora, to bring democratic governance matters at the heart of discussions and advocate for civil society support in the Arab world”, added Ms. Hamza.
Consultative status confers a series of privileges to the Foundation, and noticeably the possibility to participate in various UN gatherings and intergovernmental decision-making bodies; to make recommendations and written statements relevant to the work of the Council on subjects in which the Foundation has a special competence; to gain access to various international human rights mechanisms and UN bodies, including ECOSOC subsidiary bodies such as the Commission on the Status of Women, the Annual Civil Society Development Forum, the Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights or the Beirut-based Regional Commission for Western Asia (ESCWA), which comprises 14 Arab countries of the Levant, Mashriq and Arabian Peninsula.
This also allows the Foundation to join a network of over 2,400 non-governmental organizations with UN consultative status.
“We are also well aware that this recognition comes with important responsibilities and obligations” concluded Ms. Hamza, as the Foundation will have to engage in UN activities and events, cooperate strongly with UN agencies and contribute effectively and positively on issues pertinent to the UN mandate and work.
Click here to read the letter granting Special Consultative Status to the Foundation for the Future.
Hopes for Democracy in Libya: the Challenge Starts Now
September 5, 2011
The balance of power in Libya has significantly evolved in recent weeks, giving hope that transitional change will soon materialize in the country after four decades of an erratic and autocratic regime. The Foundation is a committed observer and supporter of the historic movement for freedom that is at play, and of the admirable determination demonstrated by the Libyan people over the past six months, albeit at a very heavy price.
The Foundation for the Future strongly hopes that the transitional phase ahead will hold the promise of democracy in Libya, allowing for fast and tangible progress towards establishing the Rule of Law and enhancing potentials for good governance, human rights, women empowerment and youth participation at the time when new voices are given the chance to be heard.
Obstacles are many: decades of oppression have undermined the capacity of independent voices to contribute to the national dialogue, and serious challenges still threaten national unity, peace and security. The horrifying findings recently made in illegal detention and torture centers are only the latest illustration of the tragic heritage that the Libyan people will have to overcome in order to bring about transitional justice and a culture of human rights in the country. In this context, the emergence of local civil society groups is encouraging and will be critical in pursuing claims of dignity, freedom, and citizenship.
In the coming months, the Foundation for the Future will explore avenues to contribute to building the new Libya. The Foundation is willing and ready to cooperate, within its capacity, to build and develop Libyan civil society. There will be citizens to educate, judges and police forces to train, institutions to reform, laws to be drafted, elections to be held and a nation to reconcile. The challenge starts now.
International Youth Day 2011: Foundation Grantees Address Some of the Most Pressing Issues in the BMENA
August 12, 2011
Lack of freedom of expression. Soaring youth unemployment. Violations of human rights. These were the issues raised by the youth of the Middle East when they began to take to the streets in the first weeks and months of 2011 in what would later be dubbed the Arab Spring. Representing nearly 2/3 of the population in the region, these youth, when united behind a cause, provided the driving force to the revolutions that resulted in the ousting of 2 presidents from power, and an awakening of civil discontent, especially among youth, across the region. However, the Arab Spring is only a beginning. The issues that fueled youth discontent are still present across the region and will require a significant and sustained effort by governments and civil society to find a solution. The youth bulge has placed the region at a major crossroads. If the issues facing youth in the Broader Middle East and North Africa (BMENA) today are not addressed, the result could have adverse effects on these countries’ economies, social services, stability and security. However, if the energy and passion of the younger generations is harnessed, it will have the potential to drive economic growth, open up societies, and transform countries for the better.
On August 12, 2011, the international community celebrates International Youth Day, marking the end of the International Year of Youth. On this occasion, the Foundation would like to highlight a group of its grantees that are working in the BMENA region to address the challenges facing youth, empowering them to become a voice of positive influence in their countries. From Algeria, to Yemen, to Pakistan, these organizations are addressing region-wide issues of freedom of expression, economic empowerment, and human rights advocacy with a country-specific sensitivity.
Etoile Culturelle d’Abou Creates Spaces of Expression in Northern Algeria
Youth in Algeria share similar grievances with their counterparts in countries across the region. With 70% of the population of Algeria below 30 years of age, and 30% of youth unemployed, frustrations related to unemployment and a persistent sense of hopelessness run deep in the population. However in addition to these considerable challenges, youth in Algeria are unique in the region in that they also must grapple with the aftershock of the Algerian Civil War. Like youth in any country of the world, the youth of Kabylie show signs of having the necessary passion and potential to play a positive role in their country. Unfortunately, due to the unique history of their country, their potential has been cut short. The Blood Decade, as the violent period that took up the majority of the 1990s has been called, resulted in an entire generation of youth growing up in a country divided by violent dispute. Even as the bloodshed has subsided, they still live in a limbo, with the legacy of the war having destroyed traditional identity structures and created taboos that make self-expression difficult. In the northern wilaya of Kabylie, this issue is compounded by a history of alienation of the Berber people who populate the region. In the wake of the Blood Decade, few positive outlets for youth and a lack of public structures made youth easy targets for fundamentalist groups that taught a doctrine of violence. As a result, the common channel of expression in Kabylie became violent protest, earning the wilaya a reputation of one of the most violent regions of the country.
One organization, Etoile Culturelle d’Abou (the Cultural Star of Akbou-ECA) decided to tackle this issue head-on. At the heart of their mission is the belief that by creating of new areas of expression for the youth, and offering them a hope for the future, they will decrease the attractiveness of violent protest, teaching youth to communicate frustrations peacefully and effectively. ECA has three main focuses: creating spaces of communication, getting youth back in school or keeping them in school, and better preparing the professionals that work with youth. In order to create new spaces of expression, the organization is developing programs that introduce 5000 youth to new forms of expression that interest them, such as theater, music, and production of short films. Other spaces of expression are being created in schools by facilitating debates and youth councils, impacting 550 students in total. In order to alleviate the soaring school drop out rate, ECA will provide 30 students with workshops on academic success, as well as a “School of the Second Chance” designed to get youth back into school once they have dropped out. Finally, ECA will work to train facilitators and educators to be prepared to make a difference in the lives of the youth they work with. This includes trainings on positive management on conflict, critical thinking, techniques of intervention, and networking with other programs that target youth. With these programs combined, ECA is successfully contributing to the issue of youth in northern Algeria, teaching them new modes of expression, and creating a brighter hope for the future.
The Yemen Education for Employment Foundation Offers Alternatives to Extremism
Unemployment across the BMENA region has sky rocketed in recent years as a direct result of the growing young population. In a region where civil service jobs are a coveted mainstay, governments simply cannot afford to provide enough jobs for the burgeoning numbers of youth flooding the job market. As a result, youth are waiting years between graduation from university or trade school before they find work. This has significant implications for youth in terms of their ability to gain independence from their families, to marry, and to develop an identity and hope for the future. Besides the obvious economic instability caused by large portions of populations unable to contribute to economic production, youth unemployment causes a chain reaction of issues that can threaten the security and political stability of a nation.
In Yemen, 45% of the population is youth, with 30% of them suffering from unemployment. The deep-seated feelings of discontent and dissatisfaction among youth make them vulnerable to be targeted by extremist groups that use violence to meet their needs. The Yemen Education for Employment Foundation (YEFE) is currently implementing a project funded by the Foundation that will help mitigate youth vulnerability to the threat of extremism by tackling unemployment. The project, entitled Anchoring Democracy, Economic Development and Labor Rights in a Youth Job-Oriented CSO, will target 150 Yemeni youth from disadvantaged backgrounds to receive market-relevant job training. This training, entitled the Pioneers Program, includes modules on English language, workplace success, information technology, and gaining an edge in business. 200 participants will then undergo a separate training on their rights as employees. Once they have worked with participants to ensure their levels of employability, YEFE will build partnerships with the private sector in order to place participants into relevant employment positions.
Representatives from CSOs in Yemen will also participate in trainings so as to be able to pass on the information that they have learned with other CSO members. In a region plagued by youth dissatisfaction, and a country with soaring unemployment, YEFE can be credited with taking steps to address the issue, one youth at a time.
The Sindh Community Foundation Trains Youth on Human Rights in Pakistan
A good government protects its citizens against human rights violations, and provides channels of recourse for its citizens when they occur. This has been one of the main grievances raised by protesters, and it is one of the central messages that the Sindh Community Foundation (SCF) of Pakistan is spreading amongst youth. For far too long governments across the BMENA have favored stability over human rights. Whether by overlooking violations so as to avoid confrontation, or by carrying out violations themselves so as to crush opposition, governments have failed to protect their citizens from such grievous violations. In the province of Sindh, the most common human rights violations are usually against the most vulnerable members of society. These usually include crimes against women and marginalization of youth. The flood of 2010 that affected 20 million Pakistanis worsened the situation, as it hit hardest in the region of Sindh and compounded the vulnerability of women and youth. Even a year later the numbers of internally displaced persons and extremely vulnerable persons is still extremely high in Sindh. The problem is amplified by a lack of youth engagement, as youth in the country often feel marginalized and powerless to enact change, especially through government channels.
These issues did not go unnoticed by SCF, and they decided to take action to engage youth in the battle against human rights violations in the province. Their program began by selecting 36 youth from across the Sindh to participate in a leadership-training workshop. Selected participants were trained on the basics of human rights, the rights of Pakistani citizens under their constitutions, and international human rights conventions. However, SCF did not stop with just making participants aware of their rights. They went on to provide youth with advocacy tools to channel human rights grievances through the proper governmental institutions. Training then focused on democracy good governance, and the necessity of youth engaging in democracy to advocate for human rights. Finally, two youth forums were held with expert speakers sharing their thoughts. The first forum focused on human rights and peace specifically in the Sindh region. The second focused on the media’s role in demanding good governance and protection of human rights. Throughout these trainings and forums, youth were continually challenged to think of human rights in Sindh province through the lens of democracy and the governmental provisions for handling grievances. In a region with one of the worst human rights track records globally, SCF is working to engage youth to eradicate these violations through peaceful, effective means.
On the occasion of International Youth Day, the Foundation is proud to be one of the many organizations globally that are making a contribution to empower youth.
Please click here to read the Foundation’s most recent newsletter about youth engagement in the BMENA region.
A promising start for the 8th Forum for the Future in Kuwait
The 8th Forum for the Future has made a promising start with the first thematic workshop held in Kuwait on 4-5 May. The 2011 edition of the Forum is co-presided by France and Kuwait. The Kuwait workshop on Gender Equality in the BMENA region is the first of three thematic civil society workshops to be held during the year, and follows a preparatory seminar with civil society organizations that took place in Paris on 7 April. Civil society organizations from France, Kuwait and the BMENA region participated in the workshop.
The Foundation was pleased to notice the commitment of the co-presidents to make the Forum a more inclusive platform of dialogue. As stated by Mrs. Nabila HAMZA, President of the Foundation and active participant in the workshop, “the 8th Forum for the Future is being prepared in the backdrop of an unprecedented series of events in the region. The protests have shed light not only on the need to move faster from words to action when it comes to reform, but also on the emergence of new actors in the political dialogue for reform. The Forum has to reflect accurately the political developments in the region through meaningful and constructive discussions. The frank, well-argued and non complacent discussions about gender equality in Kuwait are a promising start”.
Several of the participants in the Gender Equality workshop (among them, several of the Foundation’s grantees) were for the first time involved in the Forum process, bringing more diversity and a renewed dynamism to the event.
The workshop was the occasion to discuss thoroughly the obstacles preventing women from participating in public and political life, as well as several discriminatory practices and legislations obstructing the exercise of their civil and social rights. Participants expressed specific concerns over the ineffective or unimplemented CEDAW-related national legislations, and condemned the repeated attempts to infringe women’s rights, and the temptation by extremist groups or authorities to overturn or question the already limited social and legal achievements gained over the past decades in the region. Mrs. Hamza commented that “the transformation of political regimes and societies in the region will have to include a formal and broader role for women through gender-sensitive constitutions and legislations, political participation, civil and political rights, economic empowerment. Therefore, it is of utmost importance to discuss what is at stake for women in the process of democratization and reform”.
Major recommendations from the workshop form the ‘Kuwait declaration on Gender Equality’ and included: the request to review national laws within two years to promote and strengthen gender equality; the demand to lift all reservations on CEDAW and ratify the optional protocol; the proposition to implement a minimum quota of 30% of women at the legislative, executive, judicial and administrative decision making levels; and the call to speed up the establishment of the Gender Institute. Participants also expressed their wish to be fully engaged and associated in the preparation of the Forum and the follow-up of the workshop.
At the end of the gathering, participants urged stakeholders and governments to “continue their financial support to the Foundation for the Future – the only tangible outcome of the Forum for the Future – which has a major role in supporting the projects of civil society organizations in the region, especially in light of the current circumstances and the requirements of democratic transformation in our region”.
Click here to download the Kuwait Declaration on Gender Equality and visit www.forumforfuture.com
for more information about the 8th Forum for the Future.
Appeal of the Chairman of the Board of the FFF DR Cornelio Sommaruga on Syria
The tragic events of the last days in Syria, particularly on Friday and Saturday, are absolutely unacceptable. Syrian security forces and military are using live ammunition against peaceful demonstrators.
The killing has to be stopped without delay. The Foundation for the Future, which is supporting civil society in its struggle for human rights in the BMENA region, reiterates its firm condemnation of the behaviour of the security forces depending from the new Syrian Government.
It is the responsibility of each Government to respect international legal obligations and to accept peaceful protests. All use of violence has to be halted.
One cannot tolerate the repeated serious violations of human rights in this context.
Dialogue has to be searched in order to implement needed reforms.
The Foundation for the Future Condemns Threat Against its Board Member from Yemen, Ms. Amal Basha
Amman, 21 April 2011.
The Foundation for the Future strongly condemns all forms of actions and threats that are launched against civil society activists in Yemen. Among those is the Foundation’s Board Member Ms. Amal Basha who, according to sources of Amnesty International, has received a threat from an anonymous caller who said Yemeni security forces believe that she briefed the UN Security Council about the current situation in Yemen, thereby “internationalizing” the country’s problems. In a statement by Ms. Amal Basha, she emphasized that she has not provided any such briefing to the UN.
We urge the Yemeni authorities to immediately investigate this threat against a leading human rights activist and take steps to ensure that those responsible for planning any action against their lives, and particularly Ms. Amal Basha’s are known to the public and brought to justice.
Statement of Dr Cornelio Sommaruga, chairman of the Board of the Foundation For the Future, on Bahrain
Following events and political developments in several countries of the Middle East and North Africa, the real progress towards democracy in some nations is strongly overshadowed by setbacks with serious violations of human rights, there where civil society is advocating progress in the path of democratization.
The FOUNDATION FOR THE FUTURE has already expressed publicly preoccupation for developments in Libya, Yemen, Syria and other countries of the region.
Today the Chairman of the Board of Directors of the Foundation wishes to draw attention to the very serious situation in BAHRAIN, where there was hope for a true and genuine dialogue between the Government and the opposition, that could have led to reforms in the political system. On the contrary, resorting to violence and heavy use of force against peaceful demonstrators, with outside military and non-military interference, has very seriously exacerbated the situation. The violation of basic rules of human rights by Government forces has to be strongly condemned.
The FOUNDATION FOR THE FUTURE which has the objective to work with civil society to enhance the respect of human rights and the path to democracy in the region calls all the parties concerned to return to a peaceful dialogue and to respect human dignity of all inhabitants of the Kingdom.
Dr Sommaruga also recalls the RESPONSIBILITY TO PROTECT agreed 2005 by the UN Summit, which commits each individual Government to protect its own population; if this is not the case, the international community has the responsibility to act. In this respect consistency is required; double standards have to be rejected.
The Foundation Calls on the Bahraini Government and Opposition to Engage a True and Genuine Dialogue for Reform
The Foundation for the Future strongly urges all Bahraini parties involved in the current events to engage in a true and genuine dialogue, which should lead to a realistic reform in the political system. The Government should restrain from the indiscriminate use of force and the mass punishment against innocent civilians, and to remove any restrictions on provision of medical care to injured civilians. We strongly urge all the concerned parties to adopt more peaceful and democratic approach for the aim of reinstating the respect for human rights in the country.
The calls for further democratization and ensuring free and fair elections by the Bahraini people, ultimately resulting in a representative parliament, should not be perceived nor painted by a sectarian inclination, thus diverting the issue of civil rights to a sectarian confrontation between the people of Bahrain.
The Foundation for the Future robustly opposes any external military or non-military, interference in Bahrain’s internal affairs, unless internationally mandated, aside from such involvement aiming at constructing dialogue and bridging the gaps between the government and the opposition. This is bearing in mind that any ill-intentioned interference will only exacerbate the problem, which is strongly condemned by the Foundation.
Insisting on dialogue and conciliation between the concerned parties as the only path for the advancement of Bahrain in all walks of life, the Foundation for the Future is deeply saddened and feels for the families of those who lost their lives in the unfortunate events of violence.
Tunisia opts for Gender parity in its first democratic elections since independence.
Men and women will alternate in the lists for the Constituent Assembly.
The Foundation for the Future is very pleased to note the approval of the principle of gender parity between men and women in the membership of the new National Constituent Assembly in Tunisia, as stated by the decree law voted by the large majority of the High Authority for the Achievement of the Revolution Objectives, Political Reform and Transition to Democracy.
The constituent Assembly, which will be elected in July 24, will be responsible for drafting a new constitution, with therefore a high percentage of women deputies.
This is an unprecedented step in the Tunisian history becoming the first country ever having real gender balance in the Assembly charged with one of the most important responsibilities in the preparations for the second republic in Tunisia, the new constitution.
Such a development is stressing the status of women in the law to be able to strongly contribute in the transitional phase and in building the new Tunisia. This will effectively add significant value to the amendment of law towards the exercise of political rights with practical steps for women’s empowerment, women's participation and reform in general.
On the other hand, the Authority in Tunisia issued a decree banning from nomination to the National Constituent Assembly, all those "who had taken part in the government or in positions of authority in the ruling party" during the 23 years presidency of the former president Zain El Abdeen Bin Ali. The decree also bans the nomination to the Assembly for all characters who appealed to the former president to nominate himself in 2014 for a sixth term of presidency, contrary to the constitution of the country.
The Foundation Condemns the Violence against Civilians in Syria
The Foundation for the Future is observing the dramatic developments in the Syrian Arab Republic with great concern for the safety of the protestors and the wellbeing of those detained by security the apparatus. Additionally, the Foundation is more alarmed by the excessive use of firepower by security forces against the demonstrators that have lead to several deaths since the people took the streets.
We are strongly urging the Syrian regime to restrain itself from averting to the use of deadly force against the demonstrators, where to the contrary it should protect their right to freedom of opinion and expression.
The Foundation calls on President Bashar Al-Assad to listen and address the righteous demands of the Syrian people, who are calling for justice and equity, regardless of religion, ethnicity and political affiliation. Therefore, robustly insists on the release of all those wrongfully detained during the recent events, as well as all of those arrested over the years and held without a fair trial.
We invite the Syrian regime to promptly honor its commitment to affecting reforms in all aspects of the citizens’ lives, nonetheless, noting that in light of the regional developments the “quick fix” approach, where political freedoms are substituted by economic leverage, no longer applies. Thus, such reform must uphold people’s civic and political rights.
Foundation for the Future Launched its 2010 Annual Report in Tunis
Tunisia- March 17th, 2011
The Foundation for the Future officially launched its 2010 Annual Report in Tunis. Journalists, civil society representatives, activists, donors and personalities from the media and the Arts were attended the event. For the Foundation, it was an occasion to highlight activities and achievements accomplished in 2010, which has been a milestone year for the Foundation.
Indeed, in less than four years, the Foundation has positioned itself as a leading grant-making institution in the region, with more than 140 projects approved and more than 120 partner organizations on the field. Moreover, the Foundation has taken a prominent role in knowledge building on issues pertaining to the development of civil society, with major conferences and events organized throughout the year.
The decision to have the official launch of the report in Tunisia is also an acknowledgement of the tremendous dynamism spreading across the Arab world towards democracy and effective rights, and that has been initiated in Tunisia a few months ago. Recent events are the reassertion of the strong and positive role that civil society organizations can and are ready to play in the process of change and reform in various countries of the region. Symbolically, the event was held in the medina (old city) of Tunis, a point of rallying for many of those who have led the wave of democratization over the past weeks.
The Foundation Condemns the Violence Against Civilians and Supports the Call for Reform in Yemen
We are anxiously following the continuing violence against civilians in Yemen. It is enormously disturbing to observer the extreme disrespect of civilians’ spontaneous call for genuine reform and freedom, which their absence has evidently led the Yemeni security forces to carry out repulsive physical aggression against those who are taking the streets to peacefully express their appeals.
The brutal response of the Yemeni regime is unacceptable. It is seen as a severe violation of the simplest human rights of all individuals in their fair demands for corrective measures to end the prevailing corruption in the most democratic approach and ensure that the rule of law dominates at all times.
Civilians should be given the chance to express themselves and be heard in a trustworthy dialogue with the government. Such an approach would have avoided the ongoing bloody encounter and prevented the unnecessary deaths that occurred as a result.
While denouncing all forms of violence against citizens seeking to regulate deficient systems and ill practices in a peaceful manner, the Foundation for the Future calls on the Yemeni government to immediately restrain from the excessive use of power with those protesters. In the meantime, civil society organizations should assume their role in the process of ensuring a nonviolent and democratic transformation in the country.
The Foundation for the Future Praises Women of the Region for Taking Destiny in Their Own Hands
Seizing the occasion of International Women’s Day, the Foundation for the Future conveys with pride its admiration to all women throughout the MENA region, who continue to do their utmost to gain freedom, justice, equality and democracy. We are pleased to see how they are increasingly engaged in the process of reform and democratic transition in the many countries of this region.
Being at their natural position next to fellow members of the society, women have assumed their important role in the ongoing democratization that started in Tunisia and is continuing in other countries like Egypt, Yemen and Bahrain and so on. It is particularly impressive to witness women breaking out of their clannish restraints, as in the case of Yemen, to the spheres of independence and realism where they take their rights in their own hands and be able to decide freely on their individual options.
However, a lot of work remains to be done to ensure that women and men have equal rights and equal opportunities. The full participation of both is to the benefit of the whole society, while eliminating women’s role from decision-making and policy -formulation limits the possibility of fully entrenching the principles of democracy in the society, which will lose out on women’s knowledge, experience and ideas and eventually impedes national development.
We seize the opportunity of the International Women’s Day to present our appreciation, encouragement and congratulations to all those women in the civil society, in the public and private sector and all different walks of life, with special recognition to those who have taken the streets of several countries setting an exceptional example as role models in assuming their part in making democratic change possible. We wish them all continued success in their endeavors.
The Foundation’s Chairman of the Board of Directors strongly condemns what is happening in Libya
Following the events in the BMENA region, the Chairman of the Board of Directors of the Foundation for the Future, Dr. Cornelio Sommaruga, has issued following statement.
“While noting with satisfaction the progress towards democracy in certain countries due to the determination of civil society, he expresses his extreme preoccupation for the violence spreading out in several countries, namely in Libya. What is happening there is horrifying and completely unacceptable.
Dr. Sommaruga appeals for a full respect of human rights in all countries of the BMENA region. Non-armed persons taking no active part in hostilities shall in all circumstances be treated humanely: violence to life and persons, in particular murder of all kinds, cruel treatment and torture are prohibited by International Law.
Countries supporting the Foundation for the Future, which objectives are to work with civil society for respect of human rights and enhancing democracy, should without any hesitation exert pressure on the Libyan leadership to terminate without delay attacks by police, armed forces or other security services to the non armed civilian population.
At the UN 60th anniversary Summit of 2005, Heads of States or of Governments have stated that each individual state has the responsibility to protect its population from genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity. If this is not done, it is the international community that has the responsibility to act. There is the need to match rhetoric with reality, principle with practice. One cannot be content with reports and declarations. Governments have to be prepared to act.”
The Foundation's call to End the Bloodshed in Libya
The Foundation for the Future is following with great concern the extreme cruelty the people of Libya are currently facing. These disturbing developments have brought to the surface indisputable facts of the Libyan authority’s intrinsic disrespect and abuse of basic human rights, and we as strong advocates of all values pertained to the principles of human rights and democracy, severely condemn the atrocities and the excessive use of power against their own people. The ongoing clashes and attacks by security forces and warplanes targeting anti-government demonstrators in the main cities, which are leaving hundreds of deaths among civilians should be seized immediately.
Libyans who should enjoy the right for self-determination are making it clear that nothing less than genuine democracy will carry the day and we use this window of opening to call upon the Libyan authorities to listen to the people and initiate dialogue that can find the answers, and do so peacefully, constructively, and in the spirit of responsible authority. By protecting the rights of Libyan citizens through the democratic transition, we make sure that all Libya’s voices are brought to the table with the spirit of peaceful protest and perseverance as shown by people in the streets, which can serve as a power to support the change.
Today belongs to the people of Libya, and the Foundation for the Future is outraged by the scenes in Libyan cities and towns because of who we are as an organization and the kind of world that we want citizens to freely enjoy and children to grow up in. We continue to be a partner to Libyan civil society and stand ready to provide the necessary and requested support within our capability and mandate to pursue a credible transition to a democracy. It is a struggle for undeniable human dignity where people have determined the cause is worthwhile and can never be taken away from them.
The Foundation for the Future supports peoples’ Free Democratic Choice in the region
The Foundation is proud to witness how civil society has become more capable in taking a leading role in the adamant popular process of democratic transition that has started to take shape in several countries of the region. By proving false the stigma of laid back people of the region with its ineffective civil society, our thesis in believing in the role of civil society has been reinforced.
Stemming from its mandate to ensure the systematic building up of a culture of democracy and fortifying the principles of Human Rights, and as a strong advocate of all subsequent values, the Foundation for the Future has confidence in and supports the current march of democratic change that has begun in Tunisia then Egypt and is ongoing. As they are born free, peoples’ willpower always prevails, no matter how long corruption and injustice reign. Partiality can not eternally withstand against peoples’ democratic choice as the nature of norm, and no one is able to highjack their rights when their word eventually counts.
The historic and unprecedented victory of the people and civil society organizations in Tunisia will remain to be the flagship and compass, against which similar situations may be measured. We in the Foundation wish to present our congratulations and express readiness to continue cooperating with the civil society organizations for the promotion of political reform, democratic change, the rule of law, freedom of media and expression, equal rights and youth participation in Tunisia, Egypt and all the region’s countries.