Animating the work of many of the members of the SAWI project is a commitment to scholar-activism, that is engaging in research and data compilation for the explicit purpose of deepening our understanding of phenomena, while simultaneously empowering positive change. One of the foundational pilot efforts, was work undertaken by Dr. Charlotte Karam in the area of anti-sexual harassment work. This work began in 2015 with the KIP Project funded by the S/GWI program at the US Dept of State, 2018 with the initial KIP Index project funded by the MEPI program at the US Dept of State, and then was further elevated in 2019 through additional funding by UN Women, UNDP and the Governments of Canada and Sweden. Through mobilizing and in partnership with Civil Society Organizations (i.e., SEEDS for Legal Initiatives: ABAAD; Lebanese League for Women in Business; and ABAAD, Gender Machineries (i.e., National Commission for Lebanese Women and the Women and Children Parliamentary Subcommittee) and a number of expert activists.
The trajectory of mobilizing efforts, joining efforts with other activist and policy work in the region, culminated in multiple outcomes, including:
• VIRAL #MESH_BASSITA CAMPAIGN: The campaign, which was initially a national initiative, quickly gained traction and evolved into a regional movement with support from activists and thought leaders across the MENA region and beyond.
• KIP HIWAR and KIP CONFERENCE: Many efforts were undertaken to mobilize and catalyze conversations and spaces to discuss and debate anti-sexual harassment work in Lebanon and beyond.
• LAW 205: Mobilizing and contributing to the drafting and passing of Law 205 in the Lebanese Parliament- While changing attitudes towards sexual harassment is crucial, it was clear that legislation was also needed to address this issue effectively. Our team of academics and activists played a pivotal role in the preliminary dialogue around anti-sexual harassment legislation that eventually led to the formulation and passing of the anti-sexual harassment law in Lebanon in December 2020. This law was a significant milestone in the fight against sexual harassment in Lebanon and has been welcomed by many as a crucial step towards ending the pervasive culture of harassment and violence against women.
• EXECUTIVE TRAINING: Following the passing of the law, the sexual harassment policy initiative was launched to work directly with employers and increase awareness on their responsibilities and on key steps on how to implement protections within the workplace. The aim was to accelerate and track employer uptake of the law. The design and facilitation of a two-part Executive Workshop focused on supporting employers to better understand the law, devise internal anti-sexual harassment policies, and to support their understanding of the necessary steps for implementation.
Over the course of these many activities, one thing is clear, the fight against sexual harassment requires a multi-faceted and multistakeholder approach that involves not just legislation but also education and awareness-raising among employers and the wider community. We are steadfast in continuing to support and collaborate anti-sexual harassment initiatives in the MENA and beyond. For example, in 2022, Dr. Karam was awarded the University of Ottawa Knowledge Mobilization Award to help support and continue this anti-SH work.