I am very honoured to write the foreword to this Winter newsletter. Although I am new to the network, I have been greatly inspired by the vital work made possible by MENASP members.
In times of seemingly perpetual political divide exacerbated by the pandemic, it is more important than ever to bring people together in a spirit of cooperation and goodwill, against a backdrop of clear communication.
In line with this sentiment, it is my great pleasure to introduce a new project, launching March 1st, 2022: “Policy labs for multi-stakeholder engagement on social protection in MENA: Case studies of Jordan, Lebanon and Tunisia”. Funded by The Ford Foundation, this is a joint collaboration between the University of Bath, University of Western Ontario, and regional partners Arab Renaissance for Democracy and Development (ARDD), The Centre for Social Sciences Research & Action (CeSSRA), and the Tunisian office of Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung (FES).
Focusing on social policy in Jordan, Lebanon, and Tunisia, the project is invested in promoting social policy that reflects the specific needs of the end-users. Where previous social policies have further disenfranchised end-users such as the old, the poor, and the disabled, The new project aims to develop meaningful coalition-building and engagement by enacting a policy lab model with relevant stakeholders.
These policy labs, held in each partner country, will promote positive outcomes by providing a safe space for a diverse coalition made up of academics, government officials, policymakers, NGOs, as well as the end-users themselves. By engaging in a process of collaboration that incorporates academic rigour and local knowledge, it is hoped that this will lead to policy outcomes that are tailored to the end-users while also strengthening their civic engagement.
As the administrator for this project, I hope you can share my excitement and earnest desire for the success of this endeavour.
Featured in this issue is an account of the recent two-day MENASP workshop held in Jordan, and a valuable ethics resource contributed by Professor Rachel Forrester-Jones of the University of Western Ontario. I encourage you to read on for further news and updates.
As always, your participation and continued support with MENASP is highly valued and fundamental to the ongoing success of the network as a whole – so please do not hesitate to get involved.
Very best wishes,