Friday, December 09, 2016

Arab ambassadors "reviewed" the Arab Development Report: from Jadaliyya

"We heard nothing from UNDP for over a year. Finally, we were sent a version of our chapter that we almost did not recognize, despite being advised that only minor edits had been administered. Large sections of our text had been excised, including one in which we gave examples of ways in which young women transgress norms surrounding marriage and heternormativity; another dedicated to young women as producers of culture; and a further section about online activism. Many country-specific examples we had presented were replaced with generalized statements, explicitly contradicting our desire to emphasize nuance and resist homogenizing the region and the societies within it. Sections in which we provided an intersectional analysis—such as the ones on social and political conservatisms, on multiple forms of gender-based violence, and on sexual health and education—were shortened. Examples that showed how economic and racialized inequality intersect with gender-based violence were deleted, including one mentioning the plight of migrant domestic workers.
We were given less than two weeks to review the revised chapter, in which the changes had not been tracked. This left us with very little time to finalize the text, particularly in view of the long delays as well as lack of engagement and communication for over a year. Simply put, the imposed time frame was insufficient. We jointly produced and submitted a long list of required edits, objections, and suggestions. We received constructive replies to many of our comments, but many others were simply ignored. That was the last we heard before publication of the report.
It is our understanding that several Arab ambassadors were involved in the process of reviewing the report. We doubt it is a coincidence that the only chapter of the new UNDP Arab Human Development Report that was censored—and we use this term advisedly—in this way is the one addressing young women. While we felt that the chapter was sufficiently restored to attach our names to it (see published version here), we remain dismayed that sections in which we provide complexity and nuance, and ones pertaining to young women challenging gender and sexuality norms as well as their cultural and creative expressions, have been totally eliminated form the final report."
PS But how do the writers know that their chapter was the only one censored? Probably other were as well.