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MEPI Recognizes Human Rights Day 2010



In honor of Human Rights Day, December 10, MEPI recognizes human rights defenders acting against discrimination, often in the face of great personal risk to both themselves and their families. 

These courageous actors speak out against abuse and violations including discrimination, exclusion, oppression and violence, they advocate justice and seek to protect the victims of human rights violations, and they demand accountability of perpetrators and transparency in government action. The activities of human rights defenders galvanize action and spur positive change.

Human Rights Day theme for 2010 honors those who speak up and take action to end discrimination in all of its forms whenever and wherever it is manifested.

Over the years, MEPI has partnered with citizens and organization throughout the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) that work to advocate for the rights of underrepresented groups, such as women and youth, support citizens’ right to fair and equal treatment by their governments, assist journalists in their struggle to provide independent and accurate news coverage, help citizens access economic opportunities, and more.  Today, MEPI honors its local partners committed to bringing change in their societies for the benefit of fellow citizens.

Please click on a country below to see examples of MEPI’s work with local partners




BAHRAIN

Bahrain’s Lawyers Association and Bahrain Journalists Association: “Training Journalists on Reporting Trafficking in Persons Issues”
The Government of Bahrain recently issued a law to outlaw human trafficking. In response to this new law, MEPI provided funding to the Bahrain’s Lawyers Association and the Bahrain’s Journalists Association to train Bahraini journalists and lawyers on the necessary professional skills to investigate human rights violations, specifically those that involve trafficking victims.  In addition to improving public awareness about the implications and consequences of trafficking in persons, the program also supports the press in assuming an active role as a watchdog to ensure the government’s positive legislation will be translated into actual progress against human trafficking.

EGYPT

The Human Rights Association for Community Development: “Accept You to Accept Me”
The Human Rights Association for Community Development in Assiut is conducting a project entitled “Accept You to Accept Me.” This seven-month project is fostering religious and social tolerance in the Assiut region of Egypt through two rounds of discussions with local leaders and educators and a series of four awareness sessions targeting local youth. At the end of the project, the ideas and proposals developed in these sessions will be presented in a final presentation to local civil agencies as well as the media in order to educate people about the need for social and religious tolerance.   

ISRAEL

Kayan-Feminist Organization: “Legal Rights Education and Legal Advocacy for Arab Women's Rights in Israel

The Kayan – Feminist Organization held a series of lectures, workshops and meetings to discuss legal rights and entitlements with employers, legal practitioners (religious and secular) and women.  This project is focused on legal advocacy and the initiation of legal reforms intended to benefit Arab-Israeli women and encourage consistent implementation of the laws that protect the rights of women. Among the many topics covered were workers’ rights, the Rights of Victims of Crimes Law, the Women's rights in family law, the Prevention of Domestic Violence Act, and the Law for the Prevention of Sexual Harassment at the Workplace.

JORDAN

Jordan Valley Center for Comprehensive Development: Engaging Teachers and Students on Democracy and Human Rights themes in the Northern Jordan Valley”
Jordan Valley Center for Comprehensive Development (JVCCD), a civil society organization based in Jordan Valley, is implementing a project to educate Jordanian students (ages 12-17) and educators from 16 schools about human rights and civic participation.  The project helps participants play an active role in civil society and introduce them to mechanisms which they can use to exercise their rights as well as how to respect the human rights of others.

MOROCCO

Global Rights: “A Human Rights and Legal Rights Education Program for Illiterate Women in Morocco”
International NGO Global Rights is empowering women’s advocacy groups in Morocco and raising awareness among illiterate women about their legal rights.  As a part of this project, Global Rights provided 1,000 copies of the facilitator’s manual titled: “Making Human Rights Real: A Human and Legal Rights Education Program for Illiterate Women in Morocco” to women’s rights advocates in Morocco to help them reach illiterate women in their communities.  Global Rights also conducted a series of awareness sessions throughout the country on diverse legal and human rights issues for the launch of this publication.

OMAN

Dr. Rashed Al Balushi: “Strengthening Labor Protections and Rule of Law:  Labor Rights Guides for Judges and Workers”
Oman has in recent years made remarkable legislative changes to improve labor rights and practices.  Nevertheless, continuous efforts are needed to raise awareness and provide guidance to both the judicial sector and the labor sector. With the assistance of Oman-based experts and MEPI funding, Omani law school professor Dr. Rashed Al Balushi completed a Practical Judicial Guide (PJG) on Labor Law issues in Oman for judges, lawyers, workers, businessmen, and all other interested parties. The first-of-its-kind guidebook was developed as part of the MEPI local grant called “Strengthening Labor Protections and Rule of Law: Labor Rights Guides for Judges and Workers.” The PJG is now being used as a reference source at Sultan Qaboos University Law School. Pending approval of the Oman Ministry of Information, the guidebook will also be distributed to labor/employee unions, lawyers, judges, and law professors throughout Oman.

The guidebook is the result of more than a year of planning and cooperation among MEPI, the U.S. Embassy in Oman, and the legal and judicial Sectors in Oman. Preparing a guidebook that explains the specifics of Omani labor law was not easy, and this was the first such attempt in the Arab world, Dr. Rashed noted. The PJG is written in very simple terminology so people from every cross section of Omani life, including judges and workers, can easily understand the information in it.

QATAR

Qatar Media Services: “Advancing Qatari Women in Media”
Through this project, the Qatar Institution for Media Services (QMS) will train female media professionals to improve their abilities and expand their participation in the media industry.  150-200 participants (journalists, editors, trainers, media professionals, and activists) will attend a series of workshops on societal, traditional, and religious views of women in journalism, and the role of Qatari media in supporting and advancing women participation. QMS will draft and present an “action plan” to the Majlis Al-Shura, and government and media agencies, requesting specific actions to strengthen women’s participation in the media industry.  In addition to developing a stronger public support for women participation, the first Qatari Journalists Assembly will be created to strengthen the role of Qatari women in the democratic process through the development of strategies to eliminate the obstacles that hinder their participation.

YEMEN

ATHAR Foundation for Development:  “Fighting Street Harassment of Women in Yemen”
As part of its MEPI local grant “Fighting Street Harassment of Women in Yemen,” MEPI civil society partner, the Sana’a-based Athar Foundation for Development and Impact Institute (Athar), launched a series of public awareness campaigns in February 2010.   The campaign used different media channels to empower women and equip them with the necessary knowledge and tools to report street harassment and pursue justice.  According to an earlier Athar study conducted within the scope of this project, a staggering 99% of Yemeni women and girls have encountered sexual harassment on Yemen’s streets.
The campaign targeted youth, families, and men by distributing information and awareness materials through posters, brochures, SMS text messaging, and the press.  Yemeni religious leaders also participated in the campaign.  Sheikh Abdullah Al-Qadsi, Deputy Director of Religious Guidance at the Ministry of Endowment and Religious Affairs in Sana’a city, addressed the issue during the Friday prayer sermon.  He also arranged, with the Yemeni Ministry of Endowment and Religious Affairs, to have the issue of street manners and youth ethics addressed in the Friday prayer sermons by all the mosques in Sana’a in March 2010.
Based on the results of these sessions, Sana’a’s police, in cooperation with the Yemeni Ministry of Interior, highlighted the positive role that police can play in addressing these issues by displaying messages on street boards.  The advertisements provide a free hotline for the public to call to report harassment.

The Yemen Times website published articles and received input from youth on how this public policy issue could be further addressed.  The local grant project was covered by other Yemeni press including the Yemen Observer and Yemen National Information Center.