The Wilson Center’s Middle East Program serves as a crucial resource for the policymaking community and beyond, providing analyses and research that helps inform U.S. foreign policymaking, stimulates public debate, and expands knowledge about issues in the wider Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region.
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The Middle East Program was launched in February 1998 in light of the increased engagement of the United States in the region and to explore the profound changes the states in the region are experiencing. Rather than spotlighting day-to-day issues, the Program concentrates on long-term developments and how such issues impact stability and growth in the region and its relations with the United States. The Middle East Program's meetings, conferences and reports assess the policy implications of regional developments (political, economic, and social), the Middle East's role in the international arena, American interests in the region, strategic threats to and from the regional states, and the role and future prospects of the region's energy resources.
Facing Complex Challenges
The last decade has seen tremendous changes within the Middle East. As the region continues to evolve, the Wilson Center’s Middle East Program serves as a crucial resource for the policy making community and beyond, providing analyses and research that helps inform U.S. foreign policy making, stimulates public debate, and expands knowledge about issues in the wider Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region. The Middle East Program combines the intellectual grounding of its scholars with the power of its convening space to generate practical ideas for policymakers around the world. Its balanced and nonpartisan approach to programming, written output, and web content has earned the Middle East Program a reputation for contributing content of the highest quality and integrity to public discourse about issues in the MENA region.
The Middle East Program aims to address the most pressing issues of today and to anticipate the developments of tomorrow. It is crucial that all stakeholders stay informed on current events and prevailing trends. The Program will also explore key policy debates that are an important subtext to the region’s transforming environment:
Gender and Social Change
The Wilson Center’s Middle East Women’s Initiative (MEWI) builds on the work of the Middle East Program and Haleh Esfandiari’s extensive history in promoting the empowerment of women in the region. Through an open and inclusive dialogue with women leaders from the Middle East and continuous research, MEWI aims to deepen understanding of both the challenges and opportunities in gender development and prescribe policy recommendations for governments and civil society to achieve gender parity across the region. Furthermore analyzing the transforming social landscape and newfound agency of women in the region is important to understanding the basis of grassroots organizing, political voice, and economic development in the Middle East.
Development, Education, and the Workforce
The Middle East and North Africa Workforce Development Initiative (MENA-WDI) aims to assess both current and projected challenges facing the region in developing the workforce and the implications for peace and stability. Political and socioeconomic developments in the MENA region, particularly since the onset of the Arab uprisings in 2010, have heightened many challenges including sluggish economic growth, rising unemployment among a rapidly growing youth population, livelihood restrictions for refugees, and low workforce participation among women. The initiative's basic premise is that developing a robust and competitive workforce will enhance the region's economic strength – a key pillar of peace, security, and stability and a deterrent of violent extremists.
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