Reform and Transformation in the Middle East and North Africa

Past Program

Mar 27 - Mar 29, 2014

Strengthening Diversity and Inclusion in Egypt, Libya, Tunisia and Yemen


“Diversity is what we have. Inclusion is making diversity work,” said a Salzburg Global Fellow at the end of Salzburg Global Seminar Session 508, Getting Transition Right: A Rights-Based Approach to Diversity and Inclusivity

The Arab-MENA region is full of diverse voices that have often struggled to work cohesively. Despite coming together to demand change in 2011, fracture lines within these revolutionary countries seem more prevalent than ever. In light of the unique challenges facing MENA countries in transition, approximately forty activists, influencers and knowledge-bearers from across the Arab region and around the world gathered at Salzburg Global Seminar in November 2013, to confront a basic question: how can civil society encourage these countries to embrace diversity and foster inclusion?  At the close of the November seminar, groups presented draft recommendations and thoughts on possible next steps.  

Session 544 directly followed up on the work of Session 508, and took the work a step deeper.  The program brought together key participants to help identify strategic directions for improved inclusivity to aid transition processes in Egypt, Libya, Tunisia and Yemen. These countries were selected specifically because they are in the midst of difficult transitions and can pilot new approaches to diversity and inclusion for the Arab region.  

Participating Salzburg Global Fellows included civil society activists and human rights experts.  Diversity in the region cuts along multiple axes: gender, religion, culture, race, ethnicity, age, physical ability, and geographic location. Excluded communities weave among and beyond these categories to further include refugees, migrant workers, stateless persons, and those of unpopular political affiliations. In attempting to discern how civil society can encourage the integration of these communities, the Salzburg Global Fellows wrestled with the dueling requirements of law and culture. Both must shift if these countries are to truly champion a spirit of inclusion, and focusing on effecting policies and policy processes were identified as key levers for change.  

Related Session Reports

In November 2013 in partnership with the Arab Human Rights Fund, Salzburg Global Seminar held the session Getting Transition Right: A Rights-Based Approach Towards Diversity and Inclusivity. Participants from this session returned to Salzburg for session 544.

Download the summary report

Related Readings

Reclaiming the Streets for Women’s Dignity: Effective Initiatives in the Struggle Against Gender-Based Violence In Between Egypt’s Two Revolutions

by Salzburg Global Fellow Mariz Tadros, Institute Of Development Studies, University Of Sussex, UK

Open article

Getting Transition Right

By Louise Hallman, Salzburg Global Editor, openDemocracy

Read article