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High-Level Event: Addressing Gender-Based Violence in the Middle East and North Africa 

November 18, 2021



A replay of the event will be available, above, shortly.
  • Gender-based violence (GBV) remains a major concern across the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region. While most governments have signed international frameworks to address GBV and announced steps to translate commitments into national legislation and strategies, progress in practice has been slow and inconsistent. In the meantime, women and girls in MENA remain at particular risk of various forms of GBV, including intimate partner violence, non-partner violence, GBV against children, early/forced marriage, femicides, and female genital mutilation.

    Taking place just before the 16 Days of Activism 2021, this event seeks to raise awareness about the prevalence of GBV in the region and how it impedes sustainable development. Through a conversation with key policymakers and practitioners, this event will highlight good practices and existing country engagement and discuss challenges at the country-level to prevent and respond to GBV through policy and legal reforms, and support services for survivors.

    This event will also include a presentation on the World Bank’s approach in addressing GBV in the region based on the upcoming Regional Action Plan on GBV in MENA.  

    Join the conversation using #GBV and #16Days

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    Ferid Belhaj, Chair

    Vice President, Middle East and North Africa, World Bank

    Ferid Belhaj has been the World Bank Group Vice President for Middle East and North Africa since July 1, 2018. Prior to this, Mr. Belhaj served 15 months as the Chief of Staff of the President of the World Bank Group. From 2012 to 2017, Mr. Belhaj was World Bank Director for the Middle East, in charge of World Bank work programs in Lebanon, Syria, Jordan, Iraq and Iran, based in Beirut, Lebanon. A Tunisian national, Mr. Belhaj joined the Bank in 1996 as Senior Counsel in the Legal Department, managing a number of legal and judicial reform projects. He also served as Bank Counsel for countries, including Egypt, Morocco, Iran, Algeria and Thailand.


    Maya Morsy, Panelist

    President, Egypt's National Council for Women

    Morsy became the third President of NCW in February 2016. She is an Egyptian political scientist and specialist in public policy and an advocate for Women and Human Rights. In her capacity as President of NCW in Egypt, Morsy is also head of the executive council of the Arab Women Organization Current President of the Ministerial Council of Women Development Organization and Chair of the Executive Bureau of the Women Development Organization of the member states of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation. Morsy has over 26 years’ experience in national, regional, and international organizations, academia, and the private sector. She has served in various organizations including UNDP, the UN Fund for Women, and UNIFEM. Morsy was awarded “The woman of the decade in public life and empowerment” during the Women Economic Forum convened in India in 2018. She was also recognized as one of the 100 most influential women in Egypt in 2016 and the UAE recognized her as one of the “Women Pioneers” in 2019. In 2020, Morsy was honored by the first lady during the annual celebration of women.

    Ghida Anani

    Ghida Anani, Panelist

    Founder & Director, ABAAD – Resource Centre for Gender Equality

    ABAAD is a leading CSO in the region advocating for gender equality, women's rights, and the political participation of women. As an expert in GBV and Child Protection, Anani has led a number of public opinion campaigns, notably the #Undress522 which resulted in a historical parliamentary vote, repealing Article 522 – the infamous ‘’rape-marriage’’ law - from the Lebanese Penal Code. In 2019, the campaign received the first prize “UN SDG Action Award” for the most impactful campaign globally. Anani has published a number of studies, articles, training kits and community educational materials on GBV & Child Sexual Abuse in Lebanon and the MENA region. She is part of a global roster of senior Gender and GBV Experts contributing to the GBV Area of Responsibility Helpdesk. Anani is also on the Faculty of Public Health at the Lebanese University. In 2020, Anani was elected an Ashoka Fellow and announced as a “Heroine of Peace” by Peace One Day. Anani was also listed by the World Bank as one of 10 Inspiring Women Entrepreneurs Making a Difference across MENA (2018) and the UN Solutions Summit selected Anani as one of the 10 extraordinary solution makers across the globe advancing the SDGs (2019).


    Mirjam Kalle, Presenter

    Social Development Specialist, World Bank

    Kalle is leading the Regional Action Plan on Gender-Based Violence in the Middle East and North Africa Region. She also supports country-level efforts on GBV and FCV in the region. Previously, Kalle worked at the German Foreign Ministry focusing on negotiations at the United Nations and the Global Compact on Migration. Prior to that, she has worked in development, humanitarian and peacebuilding organizations on international responses to conflict-affected countries. At the Danish Refugee Council in Beirut, she developed a pilot conflict transformation program for Syrian refugee and Lebanese host communities. In a USAID project on gender-equitable attitudes and behaviors among adolescents in Northern Uganda, Kalle designed participatory programs to prevent conflict and gender-based violence. Kalle holds a MA in Conflict Resolution from Georgetown University and a BA in International Relations from the School of International Studies in Dresden, Germany.

    Ayat Soliman

    Ayat Soliman, Moderator

    Regional Director, Sustainable Development Middle East and North Africa, World Bank

    Soliman has over 25 years of experience working on global issues of sustainable development in the World Bank, United Nations and private sector, covering water, agriculture, environment, social and urban development, as well as cross cutting issues of climate change. In her current assignment, Soliman is in charge of setting the policy direction, fostering partnerships and ensuring the integrated delivery of country and regional programs of the Sustainable Development Practice Group (PG) in MNA, consistent with the regional/country strategies. She oversees a team of over 100 staff and an active portfolio of $5.2 billion in investments across the region in urban and social development, agriculture, water and environment sectors, as well as analytical work and multi-donor trust funds. Prior to her current assignment, Soliman was the Global Director in the Water Global Practice and has worked in the Latin America and Caribbean and Africa regions of the Bank in different positions of technical and managerial leadership. She holds an MSc and BSc in Environmental and Mechanical Engineering from the American University in Cairo.


  • TIME: 14:00 – 15:00 GMT / 9:00 – 10:00am ET
  • LANGUAGE:  Discussions will be conducted primarily in English. Arabic and French interpretations will be available.