Yara is a researcher and civil society professional with more than 20 years of experience in the fields of development, human rights, policy analysis, and not-for-profit management. Throughout her career, she has worked with various international organisations, funders, and bilateral donors to enhance the resilience of civil society organisations so that they can serve their communities and advocate for the rights of those that are voiceless and marginalised.
Yara has worked with different organisations including UNHCR, Save the Children, and UNDP in programs supporting youth participation, inclusion, and integration. With the Danish Egyptian Dialogue Institute, and recently Ford Foundation, her work focused on programs supporting media reform, freedom of expression, digital rights, and the impact of technology on society as well as advocating for inclusive social protections across countries of the MENA region.
Yara has extensive technical experience in strategy development, policy and context analysis, as well as program and project management and institutional capacity building of civil society organisations. She has conducted various consultancies to assess the organisational development needs of local civil society organisations and volunteered to sit on the governance board of others.
She has also published various policy papers on civil society challenges and the status of civic space in Egypt, Tunisia, the MENA region, and the Mediterranean, including 'BRIDGING THE SEA: A Review of Mediterranean Civil Society', 'Pushing Back against Narrowing Space for Civil Society in Tunisia', and 'Unsolved Dilemmas: Issues of Internal Governance in Egypt’s Human Rights NGOs'.
Yara studied political science at Cairo University in 2001 followed by a master’s degree in human rights and democratization from the University of Malta. In 2015, she earned her second master’s degree in public policy from the American University in Cairo.
Change is a long path, it is nonlinear, takes time, and requires devotion, agility, and flexibility. Change can only happen through full participation and engagement of all stakeholders.
Yara Shawky Shahin