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This month, Habiba Mohsen, who works as a Research Assistant for the Centre for International Development and Training (CIDT) at the University of Wolverhampton, wrote about the Covid-19 crisis in Egypt and how the House of Representatives reacted to the pandemic.
Our Project Assistant Adbal-Rahman Eltayeb wrote a report on our October 6th conference on the impact of Covid-19 on trafficked women and girls.
Continuing our series on the merger between DfID and the Foreign Office which led to the birth of the FCDO, GPG’s founder Greg Power wrote about the challenges that lie in the very different ways the two departments forming the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office understand the political nature of their task.
This week, to mark her departure from GPG, former Executive Director Dr Sue Griffiths wrote a moving goodbye address and an important reminder of the crucial role MPs play in preserving and advancing democracy.
During mid-September, the Iraqi government submitted its 2020 budget to Parliament (initially planned for January 2020 and delayed due to an absent government), focusing on paying public sector salaries and pensions for the remaining three months of the year and which was characterized by a massive deficit. This comes in light of the economic reform proposal that Mustafa Al Kadhimi’s government is working on and which was supposed to be presented by the Finance Minister Ali Allawi to the Iraqi Council of Representatives (CoR) by September 15th and got postponed to the end of the month until getting the approval of the domestic and foreign borrowing law. Moreover, Prime Minister Mustafa Al Kadhimi urged the Parliament’s Speaker Mohammed Al Halbousi to push for the swift passage of the draft electoral law to move forward with holding early elections in June 2021. The Prime Minister is also expected to visit the UK, according to Iraqi Foreign Minister Fuad Hussein without giving further details about the date of the visit.
The Health and Environment Committee will submit its parliamentary report on Water Pollution and its impact on Public Health to the Committee’s Chair as a first step towards publishing the report’s findings and recommendations, as well as taking meaningful action towards tangible policy changes on water pollution in Iraq. In addition, the Iraq team continued its engagement and followed up with the women committee and the finance committee in Iraqi CoR. The team now is preparing for the upcoming sessions with both committees. Moreover, we have finalised the design of our new online course to support youth political participation in Iraq and our team is working closely with the experts to finalize the materials.
To mark the popular protest movement that begin October 2019, GPG published its report on “Economic Drivers of Youth Political Discontent in Iraq” and has been met by diverse positive feedback. This rapid piece of research aims to respond directly to the tumultuous events of the past year and explore perceptions and attitudes of young people in Iraq and Kurdistan in their own words. In particular, it compares their views of their economic prospects with those of their parents’ generation and their peers in other regions of Iraq and its near neighbours. The report formulates recommendations for policymakers, as well as further questions which deserve exploration in greater depth. The report is available in full on our website.
GPG and the NCCT within the Ministry of Justice signed an MoU on 12 October 2020, formalising an already existing relationship with the NCCT staff. The MoU will provide GPG with the formal backing needed to continue engagement. There has been some turnover of NCCT staff in the past 2 months and whilst that has not become a problem for engagement, it is easier to proceed with a formal backing. The MoU will also ensure sustainability for future GPG’s engagement.
Despite difficulties travelling, GPG is scheduling a ‘virtual visit’ in November with members of the NCCT and GPG’s Associates around; a) Review of the anti-trafficking legislation; b) Reporting successfully on human trafficking; c) Coordination of national and local policy and enforcement in Sudan, and; d) Creating a successful public engagement campaign. This is aiming to simulate what would be an in-person visit, online. This will be supported by GPG’s Project Assistant Abdal-Rahman Eltayeb, a Sudanese national, who will be able to travel to Sudan and facilitate engagement from Khartoum, while the rest of the team proceeds from London.
On 6 October 2020, GPG hosted a second online event under MSIF, this time on the effect of Covid-19 and its aftermath on trafficked women and girls. If you missed it, you can watch the event online here, or read our report on it here.
The conference brought together speakers from the UK, Bahrain, Kenya and Sudan including:
The event was a great opportunity for the project to ensure we are weaved into regional trends and continue to foster conversations with neighbouring, regional and destination countries that play a role in trafficking routes relevant for Sudanese people. It was also a great opportunity for our Sudanese counterpart to boost her own profile and establish herself with an international audience as an expert on trafficking in Sudan.
The IRI Women’s Democracy Network Male Allies project is continuing well. The team of Associates and staff have developed the curriculum for training materials on developing male allies to support women’s leadership and participation in politics and public life and are now working on the details of course material development through case studies.
Throughout the last two weeks, GPG, with Atalanta and LOST’s support, conducted 14 interviews with a range of local partners, academics, municipal members and politicians to update the political economy analysis under the new fund from Porticus in order to understand further the barriers women face currently that prevents them from increasing their political participation.
We’ve consistently heard that with the government’s response to COVID-19 and the Beirut explosion, there has been a severe decline in trust towards the government and public institutions more broadly—exemplified by the rise of recent protests in Baabda, where the presidential palace is located. Several interviewees cited a “lack of accountability” as the single biggest challenge facing Lebanon.
While French President Emmanuel Macron was criticized for meeting with Hezbollah, he has now shifted to question both the role of Hezbollah and the influence of Iran, saying that the group needed to lift its ambiguity on the political arena. With Lebanon in a deep economic recession, it’s reliance on international aid and relief has increased—a fact mentioned by several international leaders including by President Macron and US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo. International players are taking a bigger role in Lebanese politics and one interviewee expressed that the governments of Iran, Saudi Arabia, and Syria had more influence over Lebanese politics than the government.
We’ve seen divided opinion from interviewees on the likelihood of an early election, but several interviewees stressed the need for candidates to prepare for elections early—with key advice suggesting that candidates should involve themselves in relief work and local community work now. Women have been at the forefront of many relief efforts and this could translate into some success during an election campaign.
This month, the GPGF Uzbekistan project team has been working on the second stage of the project that involves developing the online course for the future Human Rights committee of Oliy Majlis.
The course aims to support MPs and staff of the Human Rights Committee in capacity building on their roles and responsibilities to carry out mandate and tasks effectively. Five modules will be based on the priority areas identified by the Deputy Speaker of the Legislative Chamber, Prof. Akmal Saidov, during the call with GPGF back in August:
To discuss technical questions, course structure, and clarify some questions regarding the content, we held a catch-up with the associates who have done a great job creating the course skeleton.
We are waiting for the final updates from the Uzbek parliament regarding the formation of the new committee on Human Rights. As soon as this information is received, we aim to start delivering module I at the beginning of November.
Building on the momentum of our work on gender representation in politics, GPG submitted a concept paper to the International Republican Institute on developing women’s local leadership and representation in Jordan.
The Arab Youth Centre, UAE approached GPG to develop a proposal to undertake information-gathering on youth policy across the Arab region. GPG has submitted a proposal to undertake this work in two stages. The first part is to develop country-specific briefs on youth policy across the region, and the second part is a best practice report, identifying the principles, characteristics and processes that are likely to improve engagement of youth in the policy process.
The Adam Smith Institute approached GPG regarding their framework tender under DFID’s Official Development Assistance Programme Services (ODAPS) Framework Agreement for the MENA region. GPG awaits a decision to see if we were included as part of their final consortia.
We are delighted to announce that GPG has now won a bid to the Arts and Humanitarian Research Council for a Call for funding on Modern Slavery Policy and Evidence Centre – COVID-19 Rapid Response. This bid is a small call for research around the impact of Covid-19 on victims of Modern Slavery and it is focused on Sudan, due to GPG’s expertise in the region. This is part of a consortium with Nottingham Rights Lab, RUSI and Waging Peace aiming at broadening GPG’s partnerships and areas of work.
After a relatively inactive period, the FCDO released opportunities for funding through its framework agreement. These are focused on Iraq, one being the Technical Assistance Fund (TAF), and the other on Political Reform (PRP). GPG is set to lead on the latter and is in the process of finalising its consortium. This will be a significant piece of work over the coming months. We are also exploring opportunities to partner on the TAF.
Similarly, we have received news that the Gulf Strategy Fund is starting to open up again and we have received encouraging news that our pending proposals for work in Kuwait and Bahrain will soon be funded.
GPG successfully appointed Dalva Gerberon as Communications Officer, who started in early October. Along with GPG’s communications team, she will support the delivery of overall GPG(F) Marketing Strategy, especially the Communications Plan. She will also drive content creation throughout the organisations as well as develop GPG’s Learning Management System. Dalva’s background is in development-related fields and mostly focusses on social media management, website development and communications.
Additionally, GPG is currently recruiting a MENA Projects Manager, who will manage specific projects in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region as well as contribute to GPG’s wider research, communications, and business development activities.
Despite preparing for a staggered return to the office, the latest government guidance has meant that GPG is now planning for continued remote working for the foreseeable future. Accommodations have been made to ensure this will be as seamless as possible.