British Council

When I was in front of the Committee, I spoke passionately maybe using emotional arguments, but I knew I also had the answers to all their specific questions. This knowledge came from the action research group.

Lakshika Piyumali (19) – Community Project Team leader, Dikyaya, Monaragala 


Life cycle



Middle East and North Africa


Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO), Arab Partnership Initiative


To build capacity among women to engage with, and act upon, issues that affect their community, and to build up a broad base of support within society for women’s participation in political processes. 


The Middle East and North Africa region has undergone huge turbulence and change over the past four years. Despite differences between countries, there has been an emerging agenda to increase women’s participation in elections, legislative processes, policy influencing and decision-making at all levels. Yet despite immense political and social changes during this time, there is still a need for greater progress on gender equality and change is now more important than ever. Women Participating in Public Life (WPiPL) started with four countries; Egypt, Libya, Tunisia and Morocco, and was designed to build capacity and convene key actors to support women’s participation.


The programme worked at three levels: local, national and regional. At the local level we have built the confidence and ability of young women to affect change through our community leadership programme, Active Citizens. At the regional and national level, we help existing and emerging coalitions of women's organisations, non-governmental organisations (NGOs), authorities and media to support women's public participation. This is done through capacity-building workshops and exchange visits with leading UK women's organisations. Action research also plays a major part, where evidence-based data helps support partners in women’s participation with trainings on advocacy, awareness raising, stakeholder analysis, and use of media. Built into the implementation of the programme, evidence can be gathered on how women can be more successful at effecting change. 


At the local level, using Active Citizens, the project surpassed its goal to train 50 facilitators by training and reaching 18 communities. Significantly, a total of at least 4,661 individuals were trained, 80 per cent of whom were women. 

Regarding the Social Action Projects (SAP), at least 43 SAPs were implemented which exceeded the target for 2015 of at least 20 SAPs. Almost all SAPs were led and also mostly implemented by women. 

There was also a regional dimension to the project, to link and stimulate collaboration between each of the four original countries. This was evidenced by two regional workshops that brought all the groups together to share experiences. Given the success of the project, and given the needs of women in the Levant and especially in Lebanon, we implemented the project in three additional countries; Lebanon, Jordan, and Palestine. Due to the volatile or changeable context in the focus countries, the WPIPL project adapted its activities to more wide-ranging support to women to bring about positive changes that were important for themselves and their communities.

Mutual benefit

We are continuing our efforts in North Africa to build strong and inclusive communities, particularly by increasing women’s participation in the community and in decision-making at all levels. Through Active Citizens, capacity-building workshops and exchange visits with leading UK women's organisations, we are demonstrating our commitment and unique expertise to the region. By building on existing coalitions of women's organisations and non-governmental organisations (NGOs) we help to position the UK as a trusted partner and convening power. The DAWRIC project in Lebanon (Direct Action for Women: Reform, Inclusion and Confidence) 2016-18 was a successful follow up of WPiPL, where we supported the building of support networks across the country to increase women’s political and economic participation.