Northwestern University in Qatar (NU-Q) will launch this week ‘Her Majlis’, an exhibition exploring Qatari women’s opinions and gathering spaces. The project seeks to better understand the drivers and obstacles of Qatari women’s engagement in society by exploring how they participate in civil society, including in traditional gatherings.

‘Her Majlis’ is now open to the public until 8 October 2015 at the Art Gallery of Hamad bin Khalifa University (HBKU) Student Center. An official ‘Opening Reception’ will be held from 6 pm – 10 pm on Wednesday, 9 September. This includes the opportunity to discuss the research with both female students and faculty at 8:30 pm. All are welcome.

The museum exhibition was created by a team of faculty and student researchers, funded by a Qatar National Research Fund UREP grant. The undergraduate students, most of whom are Qatari women, undertook the research project entitled ‘Qatari Women: Engagement and Empowerment’. Its results aim to inform the government and society of ways to personally and professionally support women, as part of the wider national goal of transitioning Qatar to an economy built upon knowledge and human capital.

Dean and CEO of NU-Q Everette E Dennis said:

‘Her Majlis’ is the result of tireless dedication, work, and collaboration by faculty, staff and students in Education City. This remarkable research challenges misconceptions about female repression or exclusion within society, dispelling negative stereotypes, particularly the role of women portrayed in international media coverage of the Middle East. As a school we try to connect topics of local interest with our own research efforts.’

Visitors will experience an immersive, interactive multimedia space designed to engage, educate and inspire discussion within the community of Qatar. The findings on display have been collected from a range of sources, including student ethnographic research in women’s majlis gatherings, student-produced photography and films, and opinions of Qatari women gleaned from original surveys, written by faculty and students, and professionally conducted by Qatar University’s Social and Economic Survey Research Institute (SESRI).

The project has been led and supervised by NU-Q faculty including Jocelyn Sage Mitchell, assistant professor in residence, Liberal Arts Program and Kirsten Pike, assistant professor in residence, Communication Program, as well as Christina Paschyn, lecturer in Journalism and Tanya Kane, former adjunct lecturer, Liberal Arts Program at NU-Q who developed the exhibition as part of their spring 2015 class, Installing a Multimedia Majlis. Sadia Mir, assistant professor at Virginia Commonwealth University in Qatar and Dr. Justin Gengler, research programme manager at SESRI, Qatar University also played key roles as part of the university faculty grant team.

To date, the research has been honored with several awards, including the first place ‘Research Excellence Award’ at Qatar Foundation’s Annual Research Conference 2014, the ‘Best Paper Award’ at Doha International Family Institute’s Annual Conference on Family Research and Policy 2015, as well as NU-Q’s ‘Unity Award’ for interdisciplinary collaboration and achievement.

For more information on the ‘Qatari Women: Engagement and Empowerment’ grant, please visit their website.