Gender and Sexuality knowledge centers and institutions exist primarily outside the Arab world. Despite the wealth of research conducted about the region, few resources are published in Arabic and pronounced gaps remain undealt with. The Gender and Sexuality Resource Center (GSRC) plans to address the knowledge gaps and create an alternative site of production in Arabic. In this way, activists and academics would broaden their participation in the sexual and bodily rights regional discourse. They would also benefit from having their work supported and being provided with a repository of information and knowledge.
The GSRC is the product of a joint collaboration of the Arab Foundation for Freedoms and Equality (AFE) and ABAAD. It aims at aggregating resources from and about the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region on Gender and Sexuality, thus providing valuable research and field resources to academics and activists alike. The activities of the GSRC revolve around its free, public, and easily-accessible web portal, which features an extensive database of resources. GRSC’s mission is to identify the gaps that exist within the current body of research in order to inform and foster the production of new research that respond to these gaps. The aim of the GSRC is to become an information hub that brings together activists and academics, with a firm emphasis on material produced in Arabic.
Scope of Operations
1- Online database
Since the start of its activities in 2012, the GSRC has collected resources from 11 MENA countries so far, namely Lebanon, Jordan, Egypt, Syria, Tunisia, Morocco, Bahrain, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, and Sudan. Both academic and non-academic, the gathered resources span a variety of themes in Arabic, French or English. The gathered content and bibliography are open to public access via the online database portal, which was launched in October 2013 (www.gsrc-mena.org).
2- Documenting case studies
A section highlighting successful initiatives, activism, research, and organizations working on Gender and Sexuality in the region is also available on the GSRC website. Case studies shed important insight into the grassroots movements and efforts around the MENA. In certain contexts, they could also provide a supporting model for emerging initiatives.
3- History of gender and sexuality in the MENA region
In the last two decades, the interest in writing about issues of gender and sexuality in the MENA region has been on the rise. Academic publications from within and without the region have revived a wealth of historical, cultural, and literary resources that have been published in the region over hundreds of years.
4- Resource mapping and gap analysis
The aim of the GSRC is not only to gather, aggregate and classify available resources, but also to serve as a guide for further research in areas that are least represented in the literature. At first glance, the themes that are most prominent so far pertain to the issues of gender-based violence and gender in the workplace, in addition to some aspects of reproductive health from a strictly medical point of view. Clearly, the literature duplicates efforts on those topics and the tendency to overlook alternative themes of equal importance is prevalent. The results of the analysis will help inform future research endeavors in order to be more inclusive of the different themes within the Gender and Sexuality discourse.
5- Production and publication of research
Research production primarily responds to the gaps in the literature. In addition to in-house research, the GSRC is ready to fund commissioned projects by independent researchers. As a first step, the Resource Center will call for proposals that respond to the established gaps. Individual researchers or small teams will be given the support and funding necessary to conduct research; subsequently, their work will be published by the GSRC.
6- Trainings and Seminars
The GSRC’s aim is to create a space for discourse and discussion and to form a hub of sharing information and expertise through conferences and trainings. Such talks will be catered for university students, practitioners, and experts from different fields in the hope of creating a bridge between academics and activists.
7- Guiding Research
The GSRC aims at sharing research expertise and informing further research efforts carried out by other regional NGOs, individual activists, as well as academics, with a clear emphasis on Gender and Sexuality. Thus, the GSRC seeks to become a well-trusted research center that can advise, consult and connect people interested in researching Gender and Sexuality issues, in addition to Human Rights issues in general. The center operates through its networks of scholars, activists, and fully dedicated individuals who would be working with and advising interested parties on the different research projects that they may want to conduct.