Author: Hania Sholkamy
The Pathways Middle East Team had to scope a broad territory and probe deeply so as to ground the work of the RPC in the concerns of the region and its concerned citizens. The work of the inception phase attempted to answer three questions so as to insure the future relevance and success of the RPC on Pathways of Women’s Empowerment: 1) Why is women’s empowerment un-claimed and seemingly unpopular with grass-roots women and those who are most dis-empowered despite decades of feminist activism and of state support in most Arab countries? 2) Why is women’s empowerment perceived to be an alien import despite decades of apologia that have elaborated on the just and progressive potential of Islam, of Arab social organization and institutions? And 3) Why have the projects and programs implemented not had a transformative effect on women’s daily lives? This paper reports on the scoping workshop held from 10- 12 September 2007 in Cairo Egypt. The workshop invited a variety of activists, scholars, academics and researchers to three days of presentation and discussion to imagine an informed, evidence-based agenda for future RPC work that is liberated from stereotypes and prejudice. The report reports on each session by placing the subject matter of the session in context of the concerns and development in this hub and articulating the proceedings of the session with the planned activities of the RPC.