Building and sustaining leaders and a research community on reproductive health and gender in the MENA region

Violence, armed conflict, territorial occupation, increasing repression, and unprecedented humanitarian crises are affecting large numbers of people in the Middle East. In this context, the advances in women’s health made in recent decades are at risk, and in some situations they are losing ground. The future of sustainable and meaningful progress on women’s health depends on the capacity of the new generation of researchers and leaders to analyze problems, conduct interdisciplinary research, define solutions, and communicate results to influence local, national, regional, and global agendas.

The aim of this project, implemented in collaboration with the American University of Beirut, is to respond to these needs by supporting context-specific and interdisciplinary research on women’s health, reproductive health, and gender that is conducted by researchers based in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA). The Reproductive Health Working Group (RHWG), a regional network of scholars based in several Arab countries and Turkey, is an important partner in this project. Building on a consultative process led by the RHWG across its network’s members, this new phase will shift leadership to younger members of the working group, establish governance and operating principles to ensure sustainability of the network, and define a research agenda in response to current issues and pressing needs regarding women’s health in the region.

Specifically, the project will support a cadre of young researchers, nurture an online and face-to-face network to debate and share ideas, fund seed research grants, and mobilize interest and additional resources for the network by demonstrating current relevance and identifying measurable achievements and impact of the RHWG.

The project is closely aligned with the Government of Canada’s new feminist international assistance policy, the strategic priorities detailed in the 2016-2030 WHO-led Global Strategy for Women, Children and Adolescents, and the overarching 2030 global agenda for sustainable development.

Project ID


Project status



48 months

IDRC Officer

Chaitali Sinha

Total funding

CA$ 559,700


Middle East


Maternal and Child Health

Project Leader

Jocelyn DeJong


American University of Beirut

Institution Country


Institution Website