April 15 2021, MENA Meetup

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MENA Meetups

The monthly meetups bring together folks from the MENA region to share, connect, seek help, and release stress by celebrating each other. In addition, it's a time for us to find ways to support each other, and help us understand what is happening in our part of the world. If you cannot attend the monthly meetups, we are taking notes of each gathering and linking to them below.

The MENA community is connected during the week in different ways. Either through various MENA-focused channels on the IFF Mattermost or via different events organized on various topics during the year.

Date: Thursday, April 15th

Time: 4pm Central Africa Time (UTC+2) / 10am EST (UTC-4)

Who: Facilitated by Rima and Wafaa

Where: The Meetjitsi link will be shared in the Regional:MENA Channel on the IFF Mattermost one or two hours before the start of the meeting.


Updates & Resources

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First discussion: Alternative ways to refer to our region

  • Alternative ways to refer to our region and our group: moving from MENA to ...?
  • MENA: euro-centric, colonial
  • Alternatives:
    • SWANA (Southwest Asia-North Africa)
    • WANA (West Asia and North Africa)
    • NAWA (North Africa-West Asia)
    • Maghreb and Mashriq
  • Some background information:
    • There are so many different ways to refer to our region. What we want is an alternative name that is inclusive of all the different identities, languages, religions and any names that could erase a community (e.g. Arab world or Arab countries
  • During the call there was a vote
    • SWANA (1 vote): S.W.A.N.A. is a decolonial word for the South West Asian/ North African (S.W.A.N.A.) region in place of Middle Eastern, Near Eastern, Arab World or Islamic World that have colonial, Eurocentric, and Orientalist origins and are created to conflate, contain and dehumanize our people.
    • NAWA (6 votes) North Africa West Asia. Many present prefered NAWA, some like that it starts with North Africa (for a change)
    • SNAWA "Sudan, North Africa and West Asia was suggested to make sure Sudan is included
  • Suggestions to the group:
    • writing a blog post about the alternative ways of referring to our region, background story, history and why we prefer NAWA
    • Running a poll in the chat
    • When we make the chance, to advocate for the new name in our communities, with funders and to make sure it's findable

Second discussion: Career development for people in our network

  • Career development for people in our network, especially when our work has more niche set of skills.
  • Niche skills: many skills in the non-profit sector
  • Quotes: "my way of documenting my experience doesn't match the regular job openings"
  • We need more support in defining and understanding one's potential
  • "In this space, we are very few and very far between, we need more connections between us"
  • Suggestion:
    • Tools and methods to provide mentorship in our community.
    • Field: digital rights, internet freedom,
    • Career advice, what are the best ways?
  • Maybe first we should think about:
    • what were the problems we noticed in our past mentorship/career development experiences
    • to map our particular needs
    • a reading group?
  • The group members invited to add their input under the 2 open thread on Mattermost