Kawa Hassan - "It Should Lead to Something Tangible"

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Nov 04, 2013
by Oscar Tollast
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Kawa Hassan - "It Should Lead to Something Tangible"

Hivos Knowledge Officer calls for practical ideas to stem from MENA session Mr Hassan speaking at one of the workshop sessions

A knowledge officer at the Dutch non-governmental organization Hivos is hoping for an action plan to come out of Salzburg Global’s latest session.

Kawa Hassan is one of several participants attending the session, ‘Getting Transition Right: A Rights-based Approach towards Diversity & Inclusivity’.

He said he was interested in a mix of conceptual discussions and practical ideas.

“It’s a lovely gathering. We have interesting academic and activist discussions, but when we all leave here, it should lead to something tangible.”

In his role, he coordinates Hivos’ Middle East Knowledge Program Civil Society in West Asia.

Prior to this, he worked as senior program officer for South Asia/South East Asia at the Dutch INGO Simavi, and was program manager and field coordinator for the United Nations Development Program in Sri Lanka and the Swedish/Norwegian INGO FORUT in Sri Lanka.

“I deal with researchers, academics and activists. I’m interested in those perspectives, so I would like to have new thought provoking discussions and that should lead to some practical ideas and projects.”

Mr Hassan writes about dignity revolutions, democratization, democracy assistance in the Middle East, and Kurdish affairs.

He said he received his invitation to Salzburg Global at very short notice, but he was happy to prioritize his work in order to attend.

“It was on a very short notice – very chaotic – but I find it so interesting: the discussions, the groups, and the themes.

“I had to cancel a couple of important appointments in Holland to come here.”

Discussions have centered on the international and regional legal frameworks, the role of policy, shifting public perceptions and values, and salient issues around diversity and inclusion.

Mr Hassan said the discussions have been aided by having a number of people from diverse backgrounds.

“That creates an interesting dynamic in terms of views, in terms of discussions, critical thinking and being out of your usual comfort zone.

“It allows for a good comparative analysis – analyzing transitions from the viewpoint of inclusivity and diversity. I’m always interested in comparative perspectives.”

Participants have been separated into working groups by country, further analyzing the issues surrounding diversity and inclusivity in specific areas.

It is a positive sign of how hard the participants are working when many of the sessions have overrun.

Mr Hassan said time was needed to take in the discussions and digest them properly.

“It’s only a good sign that the participants are interested in the debates and the discussions. There are so many different perspectives on these two themes.

“On the one hand it shows the interest of the participants. On the other hand you need to keep a kind of central command, so you get into the end product, which is your aim, which is getting to practical ideas.”

Mr Hassan revealed one of the biggest challenges to diversity and inclusivity in the region was intolerance at a social and state level.

“For me that is the main challenge of these discussions: marginalization, manipulation, dehumanization and demonization of the other, which captures the core of the discussions around these two terms.”