20 October 2022

Civil society has played a central role in addressing some of the greatest injustices and in building societies in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region, where it has also played a prominent role in critiquing, establishing and strengthening discourses. We cannot speak of mobilisation successes in the region without highlighting the role played by civil society organisations (CSOs) and activists. 

The WeActTogether campaign highlights the role that civil society has played in successfully advocating for rights and freedoms while also highlighting the importance of civil society as a platform from which individuals may voice their opinions and demands.

The Gulf Centre for Human Rights (GCHR) joined the Innovation for Change Middle East and North Africa Hub (I4C MENA) hub in 2018 as one of the partners of the I4C program in the MENA region. In 2020-2022, GCHR and I4C MENA are working together on a project which includes the WeActTogether campaign, aimed at promoting positive stories of civil society in the MENA region as a way to support their efforts. 

The WeActTogether online campaign aims to present positive stories of the work of CSOs and activists based on a mapping survey, public opinion surveys and media analysis of the portrayal of CSOs and activistsall featured on the campaign website at https://actogether.orgFollow #WeActogether

Partnering on this project are the Bahrain Center for Human Rights (BCHR), the Iraqi Observatory for Human Rights (IOHR), and SimSim – Participation Citoyenne, focusing on three countries: Morocco, Iraq, and Bahrain to articulate the contributions of civil society to their societies.

As part of the campaign, there was a need to identify and research public perceptions in the MENA region of civil society. This research was conducted and written by consultant Dr. Kholoud Al-Khatib, researcher and author of the report. She also interviewed civil society organisations and activists in Bahrain, Iraq and Morocco, whose success stories can be found on Actogether.org website.

Media freedom, independent journalism and online security are just a few of the many issues related to freedom of expression covered in the stories, which touch upon a broad range of issues across all three countries of the MENA region. The concerns of accessibility, unemployment, prejudice and discrimination are addressed, as are those of human rights and dignity, economic empowerment for women, and overcoming obstacles related to these themes. Girls’ education and empowerment, expanding access to opportunities for rural citizens, environmental protection, and emergency relief are all examples of how civil society has responded to their communities’ needs.

The campaign launched on 20 October 2022 with an advocacy event online featuring research summaries about the role of civil society and an overview of the current status of the Freedom of Assembly, Association and Expression in Bahrain, Iraq and Morocco.

About the partners

The Innovation for Change Middle East and North Africa Hub is a regional network of people and organizations who connect, partner and learn together to find positive approaches to overcome barriers to closing civic space and restrictions to our basic freedoms of assembly, association and speech. Working closely with an expanded group of supporters and experts including social entrepreneurs and movements, the MENA Hub has developed its vision to create a free and secured civic space, and a mission to build a collaborative, innovative network of activists and Civil Society Organizations (CSOs) to facilitate the exchange and development of expertise and resources to face the shrinking of civic space. For more information about the network, visit: www.innovationforchange.net

The Gulf Centre for Human Rights (GCHR) is an independent, non-profit and non-governmental organisation that provides support and protection to human rights defenders in the Gulf region and neighbouring countries in order to promote human rights, including but not limited to freedom of expression, association and peaceful assembly. GCHR is based in Lebanon and documents the environment for human rights defenders in the Gulf region and neighbouring countries, specifically Bahrain, Kuwait, Iran, Iraq, Jordan, Lebanon, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Syria, the United Arab Emirates and Yemen. GCHR was founded in 2011. For more info, visit: www.gc4hr.org.


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