The Knowledge is Power (KIP) project has emerged at AUB with a grant from the US Department of State and is calling for all interested or working in the field of gender and sexuality in Lebanon to join efforts.
Much research and data are being generated on issues related to the status of gender in the Lebanese society, women empowerment initiatives, and civil society projects. General studies of the known current efforts, however, reveal gaps and a lack of collaboration, communication, or dissemination of information between groups working in the field, including members from civil society, academia, private, public, and legal sectors. Much of the outstanding research is unheard of or hard to access. The Knowledge is Power (KIP) project has emerged in response to this eminent need.
A project proposal was developed by Dr. Charlotte Karam, Associate Professor at the Olayan School of Business at AUB to (a) support the gathering, generation, and dissemination of information and data concerning gender and sexuality in Lebanon; and (b) foster knowledge-sharing concerning gender and sexuality in Lebanon by creating a platform for academia/civil society interactions and partnerships. This $332,200 project was funded through the US Department of State. This award was cost shared by AUB in its provision of facilities such as rooms, computers, and administrative and other staff, estimated at $132,566, over a period of 2 years.
The Knowledge is Power project materialized in partnership with civil society organizations such as Women in Front (WIF) and the Arab Foundation for Freedoms and Equality (AFE).
“We lack information and statistics about women that would help us better understand our needs, make informed decisions and come up with solutions accordingly, and that is why the KIP Project is needed", said Joelle Abou Farhat Rizkallah, Co-founder and member of Women in Front (WIF). Building bridges between academia and civil society has been a highly welcome scenario as has been the seating of the private and public sectors on the same table to work in this field.
Work is already underway: Five scheduled multi-stakeholder, multi-disciplinary, multi-sector private roundtables were held in November 2015 around gender and sexuality in education; health and well-being; economic empowerment and opportunity; politics; and legal and civil rights. The roundtables brought together members from the Ministry of Education and Higher Education, Ministry of Social Affairs, university professors, activists, and civil society members with the purpose of discussing gap areas and research questions that need to be addressed to advance within the field of gender and sexuality in Lebanon.
A call for research projects was then developed by the KIP team in December 2015 through an analysis of the identified research questions. The call includes five major thematic areas that were considered by stakeholders to be gap areas that need to be addressed. Interested individuals, institutions, organizations, and stakeholders are highly encouraged to apply by sending a statement of interest to Ms. Zeina Mhaidly, Project Coordinator, at firstname.lastname@example.org, by February 5, 2016.
A final summative private roundtable discussion was also held in January 2016 with donors interested in supporting efforts within the field of gender and sexuality with the purpose of sharing key research questions and areas of need identified during the five roundtables held in November to help guide future funding decisions.
In its first two months of operation, KIP has also worked to support university-based initiatives in Lebanon: AUB's recently launched Minor in Gender studies; AUB's committee for recognizing women at AUB during the university's 150 year anniversary celebration; and BCBCB network's initiative to strengthen gender studies and curriculum development in the Middle East.
Upcoming project activities include the funding of 15 White Paper Reports directly related to the questions and themes identified in the private roundtables, in addition to planning for, organizing, and hosting a four-day interdisciplinary Conference on Gender and Sexuality in 2017 at AUB where 200 academics, students, activists, journalists, researchers, and other stakeholders will be invited to share their knowledge in the field.
"Recognizing that there are activists, researchers, NGOs, government offices, and a myriad of actors in civil society, and the private and public sectors who are committed to exploring and engaging in initiatives that promote equity and empowerment around gender and sexuality, the KIP project has come to support and further bring these stakeholders to the same table to discuss, debate, and build cross-sector, cross-disciplinary bridges toward a better future," said Dr. Charlotte Karam, now Director of the KIP project. "KIP is a tool to help mobilize various initiatives already doing great work and a generator of further momentum."
Being the change that they wish to see, the KIP team supports joint effort and encourages all interested researchers, students, volunteers, and professionals to contact them toward that. Creating partnerships at different levels and building bridges between all concerned stakeholders is the underpinning foundation of the idea that ‘Knowledge is Power’.
For more information on the KIP project, visit the KIP Project webpage www.thekipproject.info or contact Ms. Zeina Mhaidly, Project Coordinator at email@example.com