Since 2004, the outset of the G8 BMENA Initiative, civil society participants from the region have held a "parallel" meeting concurrent with the meetings of the Forum. The 2012 Civil Society Preparatory Meeting, which included for the first time the participation of the private sector, was called to order at 9:00 am on Tuesday, December 11, under the leadership of the League of Women Voters and its Tunisian partners, ARFORGHE and the Tunisian American Chamber of Commerce.

The League of Women Voters and its Tunisian partners—Association des Responsables de Formation et de Gestion Humaine dans les Entreprises (ARFORGHE) and the Tunisian American Chamber of Commerce—welcome civil society representatives from the broader Middle East and North Africa (BMENA) to Washington, DC, to draft a declaration on issues that are currently impacting civil society, particularly in the areas of women’s empowerment, freedom of expression, and economic governance and entreprenurship. 

The Second Preparatory Meeting of the 9th Forum for the Future will take place in Amman, Jordan, October 1-2, 2012.  This second meeting which focuses on Economic Governance presents an opportunity to bring together governments and private sector/civil society representatives to discuss critical economic governance and growth issues and identify concrete steps to improve the business and investment climate, create jobs, and encourage entrepreneurs.  Among the themes that have been identified as possible agenda topics are:  entrepreneurship (with a sub-focus on women), transparency, includin

After weeks of diplomatic conversations and hours of hard work to make it all come together, the First Preparatory Meeting of the 9th Forum for the Future will take place in El Jadida, Morocco, September 3-4, 2012.

The Broader Middle East and North Africa nations include Afghanistan, Algeria, Bahrain, Egypt, Iran, Iraq, Jordan, Kuwait, Lebanon, Libya, Mauritania, Morocco, Oman, Pakistan, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Sudan, Syria, Tunisia, Turkey, UAE, West Bank/Gaza and Yemen.

For the first time since 2004, the United States has assumed the G-8 Presidency for 2012 and, in that role, has co-chair responsibilities for the Broader Middle East and North Africa (BMENA) initiative.  The BMENA initiative is a multilateral effort to promote cooperation between the G-8 and BMENA governments and civil society to advance reform efforts throughout the region.  The United States has invited Tunisia to serve as BMENA co-chair, marking the first time that two democracies have led the initiative.

To assist the government co-chairs in developing themes, agendas, and concrete efforts to promote reform in the MENA region, each country selects an NGO partner.  The NGO partners coordinate closely with each other and with the co-chair governments in support of BMENA activities, culminating in the ministerial-level Forum for the Future, which will be held in Tunisia in December 2012. 

The League has accepted the invitation to partner with the United States as its 2012 BMENA Initiative NGO partner. The role of the League is to organize 10 preparatory meetings that will take place in 8 different countries between April and October, efforts which will culminate with the ministerial meeting in December.  The League efforts are going by a team of three headed by Zaida Arguedas.   The League’s Global Democracy Program worked in Egypt and in Tunisia in 2011 and has strong ties with local organizations.

See the final publication of the 8th Forum for the Future 2011 below.

The Broader Middle East and North Africa nations include Afghanistan, Algeria, Bahrain, Egypt, Iran, Iraq, Jordan, Kuwait, Lebanon, Libya, Mauritania, Morocco, Oman, Pakistan, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Sudan, Syria, Tunisia, Turkey, UAE, West Bank/Gaza and Yemen.

On Monday, January 23, 2012, Houda Zaibi, Vice President of the Ligue des electrices tunnisienes (LET) spoke to staff and members of the League of Women Voters of the United states about the recent elections in Tunisia and about the work being carried out by the members of LET.

Houda explained that LET was the first civil society organization in Tunisia to be credited as an official election observer by the Tunisia’s election commission, the Instance Supérieure Indépendante pour les Élections (ISIE).

The League of Women Voters was invited by the U.S. Embassy in Cairo to meet with 20-30 women activists on how to work effectively on issues of importance to women during the transition period to democracy.  Zaida Arguedas, the League's Deputy Executive Director and Senior Director of its Global Democracy Program was asked to lead this effort.

In May 2011 Deputy Executive Director Zaida Arguedas traveled to Tunisia at the invitation of a group of concerned women. The goals of the visit were to meet the stakeholders concerned and interested in actively engaged in activities to promote democracy in Tunisia. During the visit Zaida Arguedas was introduced to some of the potential association partners and completed a series of workshops and discussions with the founders, board members and experts to learn from the experiences of the League both in the United States and abroad.