Progressio's Country Rep in Yemen, Abeer Al-Absi, recently attended the ALWANE regional summit held in Jordan .Here Abeer reports back on what she learned about advancing women’s rights...

On 11 and 12 November I attended the Active Leaders for Women’s Advancement in the Near East (ALWANE) Regional Summit, held in Amman, Jordan, after being invited to participate by Women’s Campaign International (WCI).

I was one of around 120 people from the ALWANE network which spans 16 countries across the region and includes over 300 men and women, youth leaders, activists, academics and experts committed to the advancement of women's leadership. 

During the summit I shared my views on the situation and needs of women in Arab countries, particularly in Yemen. I also shared Progressio’s work on women’s rights and gender issues. This event was a good opportunity for me to learn more about women in Arab countries and some of the efforts being made to enhance the participation of women in decision-making across many sectors. 

A couple of things really surprised me at the conference. Firstly, I was surprised by the varying capacities of the NGOs. Secondly, I felt the ALWANE coalition could improve and strengthen their strategic vision on how to advance women’s rights both in individual countries and in the region as a whole. 

I left the summit feeling that we as Progressio are advanced in our work in advocacy, institutional capacity building, citizens’ rights and that we have a good approach to and strategy surrounding the needs of women in Arab countries. 

There are now real opportunities for young people and women to have more of a say in the way people in the Middle East are governed, and for them to overcome some of the challenges they previously faced to participating in the political process.

Abeer was invited to participate in the summit by Women’s Campaign International (WCI), an international NGO that works around the world to advance women’s participation in leadership and decision-making processes in all sectors - including politics, business, and civil society. 

The ALWANE Coalition, active across the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region, is one of the most successful programmes. After just one year, its network includes over 300 men and women, youth leaders, activists, academics and experts committed to the advancement of women's leadership. This Coalition spans 16 countries across the region including: Algeria, Bahrain, Egypt, Iraq, Jordan, Kuwait, Lebanon, Libya, Morocco, Oman, Palestine, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Tunisia, United Arab Emirates and Yemen. 

Photo: Abeer Al-Absi, Progressio Yemen Country Rep


I think this ALWANE summit should be done internationally or globally so that it would bring a large platform for hearing different forms of challenges women are facing all over the world. This would improve women's knowledge on their rights and enhance their participation in all sectors of the society. I am from Africa and would love us to try and engage in those kind of activities. As I work at a gender organization I have found that women do not participate in some activities because of lack of knowledge. For example in my country women are unaware of their sexual and reproductive health rights therefore these kind of summits would be great to have once in a while.

Advancing women's rights in Yemen needs women leadership with vision. International exposure would be added value considering local norm and values suitable as of current circumstances. Congratulation Abeer.