Awatef Ketiti: Linking ICTs, gender, and societies across the Mediterranean Sea

August 15, 2014
Louis Turcotte
Where are they now?
Awatef Ketiti's career has crossed two continents and a number of social science fields, and has led her to work with both information and communications technologies (ICTs), gender, and refugees. One thing is certain: she would not be where she is now without IDRC’s graduate fellowships, she says.  

Ketiti started her academic career with a degree in journalism at the University of Tunis, after which she wrote for Tunisia’s Centre for Research, Studies, Documentation and Information on Women (CREDIF). She then travelled to Spain to pursue a doctorate in communications and gender studies. There, she obtained an IDRC graduate award to carry out fieldwork in Morocco, Egypt, and her home country of Tunisia in 2001 on the use of ICTs by women in North Africa.

“Back in 2001, ICTs weren’t as prevalent as they are today. Most people weren’t connected to the web, and those who were had to use Internet cafés to get connected.”

After completing her research, she obtained her PhD in Communication from the University of Valencia, in Spain, along with a diploma in intercultural mediation and gender and development studies. She is now Professor of Communication at the University of Valencia, where she also teaches courses in international cooperation for development and intercultural communication.


“After my IDRC fellowship ended, I decided to direct my research efforts towards improving cooperation between countries on both shores of the Mediterranean Sea,” says Ketiti. “Though I’ve been in Spain for over a decade now, I still have a very personal attachment to my country Tunisia, and all of North Africa. It’s fascinating for me to investigate change in a North African society that is constantly undergoing changes."

Awatef Ketiti à la remise du prix Manuel Castillo de 2013. Avec l’aimable autorisation de l’Université de ValenceStudying upheavals in post-Arab Spring North Africa

Ketiti is now the lead researcher in a team that analyzes post-Arab Spring social changes in North Africa. The project, led by the Encuentro Civil EUROMED, an organization funded by the Spanish Agency for International Development Cooperation, aims to support capacity building for civil society organizations and help vulnerable populations overcome economic, political, and social difficulties.

Though she has come a long way, it’s the little things about Ketiti’s IDRC fellowship that she remembers most fondly. She credits her success in academia to the research methodology skills and multicultural capability she learnt from her time with IDRC.

Ketiti received the 2013 Manuel Castillo Award for academic research for her work on civil society and democratic transition in Tunisia.

Ketiti also regularly participates in development projects in Spain, and North African countries. She has worked for the Spanish Commission for Refugee Aid, and is regularly hired as a cultural mediator on both sides of the Mediterranean.

Her investigation into the use of ICTs in North Africa took on renewed importance in past years as it proved invaluable to researchers investigating women activists’ use of social media to promote democracy and condemn dictatorship during the uprisings of the Arab Spring.
Ketiti’s most recent research has culminated in a set of recommendations to help European donors better understand the socio-economic reality in North Africa to improve the funding of relevant development projects.

Read about Awatef Ketiti’s research on women’s use of ICTs in North Africa,

Les Femmes et les TICs en Afrique du Nord, (PDF, 982KB, French only)

Read about Awatef Ketiti’s award-winning research on civil society and democratic transition in Tunisia (Spanish only),

La sociedad civil en Túnez después de la caída de Ben Ali (PDF, 2.8MB)
Find out more about IDRC's graduate awards on the Fellowships and Awards page
This article is part of the series Where are they now? that highlights the work of former IDRC award recipients:
Louis Turcotte is an Ottawa-based writer.

Photo (right): Awatef Ketiti, receiving the 2013 Manuel Castillo Award. Courtesy of the University of Valencia.