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Middle East and North Africa

Hivos MENA partners and collaborates with individuals and groups to work towards democratic and inclusive societies. We have prioritized increasing the political participation of women, supporting the needs of marginalized or overlooked groups such un(der)employed youth in the digital and green sectors, ethnic and sexual minorities, and refugees and IDPs, while focusing on initiatives to promote freedom of expression and accountability.

Since the start of Hivos’ activities in the MENA region in 2004, we have placed great emphasis on the following challenges: human rights violations, institutionalized gender inequalities, the absence of functioning accountability mechanisms, and the lack of personal freedoms. However, economic challenges (poverty, unemployment, the abandonment of rural economies) – in combination with climate change – have created an urgent need for programs aimed at mitigating and adapting to the increasing impacts of climate change in the region.

Women in politics

Hivos has a long track record of working in the MENA region to ensure women have equal opportunities and the capacity to fully participate in political life and decision-making processes.

  • We supported women candidates and media outlets that monitored gender-focused events and debates before, during and after Lebanon’s last general elections. Under a Hivos-supported program, the first ever local monitoring report on municipality elections from a gender perspective was produced.
  • In December 2020, Jordan and Lebanon launched the much-anticipated MENA Gender Barometer, which for the first time provides regionally comparable sex-disaggregated data on women’s participation.
  • We produced and published a timeline celebrating unsung women heroes in Lebanese history

Sarah Saleh

Director Hivos Middle East & North Africa

Sarah Saleh has over 20 years of experience in the non-profit sector, with more than 12 assignments in 6 of the MENA countries alone. She has set up operations for several organizations and has overseen programs in a range of areas: capacity building of local civil society, protection, good governance, mixed migration, and economic justice. She identifies herself as a field person, with her management experience ranging from hands-on Country Director and Team Leader roles for INGOs and the UN, to holding advisory roles in support of duty bearers.

She holds a BA in Political Studies (American University of Beirut) and an MA in Arab Studies, with a concentration in Economics and Development (Georgetown University, Washington D.C.).

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