Democracy and Governance

Language: English

The Middle East and North Africa (MENA) has experienced a long period of upheaval, and the Arab Spring, beginning in 2011, included calls for democracy from many countries. USAID’s Middle East Bureau is dedicated to the promotion of democratic processes, good governance, engaged civil society, and regional security.  

Democracy, governance, peace, and security are foundational to achieving development goals across sectors – from high-quality accessible education to economic growth – and stand as important programmatic areas in their own right. The rising threat of violent extremism throughout the region requires careful attention, applying development tools when appropriate to help prevent its spread and protect development gains. We are committed to build stronger partnerships and regional frameworks to prevent, mitigate, and respond to conflicts, crises, and mass atrocities; increase the level and quality of cooperation on regional security issues; and enhance regional stability.

USAID designs and manages regional research and activities including for countering gender-based violence, increasing civil society innovation, and implementing research on closing space for civil society. All our programming is focused on inclusive development, which includes promotion of gender equality and women’s empowerment. USAID’s Gender Equality and Women’s Empowerment Policy seeks to advance gender equality through integrated approaches as well as specific programming that dives deeper into the gender disparities across the region.  

A growing priority in MENA is the inclusion of youth. USAID’s Youth in Development Policy emphasizes cross-sector efforts to: increase meaningful youth participation; incorporate youth development practices across systems; and escalate investment in sectors that benefit youth, including food security, global health, child protection, and climate change. USAID supports two-way engagement with youth in the region to include more youth voices in larger development issues.  

Examples of Our Work:

  • Case Study Research on the Roles of Women in Violent Extremism:  This research culminated in the release of a policy brief at the United Nations General Assembly in September 2015.
  • Cross-National Gatherings: USAID recently convened two gatherings:  for representatives from civil society organizations across the Maghreb and Sahel to share experiences and lessons on work related to youth and countering violent extremism; and from across the broader Middle East to discuss civil society innovations and the closing space issue.