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Arab region: the dignity of women

Developing networks to reduce violence against women

   Arabic text

The Dignity of Women publishes the voices and views of women working to end violence against women in the Arab region and to promote women's rights. In collaboration with a network of women’s organisations across north Africa and the middle east, the 5050 section of openDemocracy is bringing the knowledge and experiences of women into the global debate.

We are grateful to Hivos for funding this editorial project as part of the Hivos Knowledge Programme on Promoting Pluralism.    Hivos

Is that what we fought for? Gaddafi's legacy for Libyan women

Women played a largely unreported role in last year’s revolution in Libya. Now they have to fight both Islamist and secular men if they’re to have any influence in the new Libya, says Lindsey Hilsum.

J’Accuse the West!

There is a perception among the non-Islamist political movements and civil society that there is a western conspiracy against the Egyptian people in support of the Muslim Brotherhood’s totalitarian regime, it is now time to switch sides before it is too late, argues Mariz Tadros

Understanding the subordination of women in the Arab region: Wilaya

The concept of wilaya (guardianship over women) is key to discrimination against women. Debates over different interpretations of guardianship under Muslim law ultimately fail to address the key premises underlying hegemonic notions of masculinity and femininity and the institutions that propagate them argues Afaf Jabiri

Patriarchy and militarism in Egypt: from the street to the government

The lack of institutional concern for epidemic levels of sexual harassment and assault in Egypt is part of the larger neglect of the issue of gender equality by the post-revolutionary powers, says Heather McRobie. 

A war against women: The CSW declaration and the Muslim Brotherhood riposte

The statement issued by the Muslim Brotherhood in response to the UN Commission on the Status of Women draft Agreed Conclusions on violence against women, is nothing short of an assault on their most basic rights as citizens and human beings, says Hoda Elsadda ,

Troubling parallels, hopeful differences: Iran, women, and the 'Arab spring'

Despite parallels with Iran, Haideh Moghissi notes more hopeful prospects for the future of women’s rights and democracy in post-Arab spring regimes

Egypt: the Islamization of state policy

Fears that Egypt’s constitution will be used to inhibit freedoms and enhance the powers of the Islamists in power have already proven to be well founded. The new constitution makes the entire governance system subject to the strictures of Islamic jurisprudence, argues Mariz Tadros

A problematic discourse: who speaks for Arab women?

Placed between the First Lady and the Diplomat at the recent Trust Women conference on the 'Arab spring', Ala'a Shehabi argues that in order to foster constructive engagement with the global south, the media, international donors and policy makers should recognise the radical social shifts towards unorganised local groupings and informal collectives

A Revolutionary woman

A poem by Marwa Sharafeldin. Part of a series of poems by African feminist writers for 16 Days of Activism against Gender Violence.

Land, loss and longing: women and equalities in the north of Israel Palestine

Expropriation of their land by the Israeli state is an ongoing injustice for its resident Palestinians. Cynthia Cockburn recalls the 'politics of land' in an alliance forged between Israeli Jewish and Israeli Palestinian women between 1983 and 2008.

South Kordofan: activism, resilience and sacrifice

Sudanese women's rights organisations that fled South Kordofan last year are rebuilding their networks, and women like Jalila Khamis Kuku are detained for speaking out about the atrocities committed against the Nuba people. They need our attention and support, says Amel Gorani

Can a story save a life? Women and the Arab uprisings

As Tahrir Square fills up again and the Arab uprisings continue, the power of words and the battle over who owns them is captured by six middle eastern playwrights whose work Arab Nights is being performed in London

State feminism in Tunisia: reading between the lines

The Tunisian experience with state feminism is a model to draw lessons from, especially for the Arab-Muslim countries whether governed by liberal autocratic regimes or Islamist regimes: whenever the regime talks in favour of women, read between the lines.

Somalia: a call for sisterhood

In the run up to next week's Presidential election in Somalia, Zainab M. Hassan writes an open letter to new women parliamentarians asking them to demonstrate collective leadership in their choice of someone to lead a ruined country.

We Are Fed Up! The power of a new generation of Sudanese youth activists

The recent protests in Sudan attest to the rise of a new generation of Sudanese youth activists. At the heart of this emerging political force is Girifna, a youth-led movement which has been using internet power, confrontational street tactics, and advocacy to stand up to the regime of Omar al-Bashir.

Undressing Um Ahmad: Egyptian women between the bikini and the burquaa'

Egypt's new First Lady is covered, a first in the history of this country. Just as her Muslim Brotherhood husband has raised more than a few worries on the secularity of the state; the way his wife dresses is worrying many over the "image" of Egyptian women

أنا و أم أحمد و البيكيني

لأول مرة في تاريخ مصر, ترتدي سيدتها الأولى الحجاب و كما أثار زوجها قلق الكثيرون حول مدنية الدولة, أثارت زوجته القلق حول صورة المرأة المصرية.

Street sexual harassment: breaking the silence in Yemen

Young women’s rights activists are using new media to give a voice to the 90% of Yemeni women who face street sexual harassment. Yet support for the campaign has been far from unanimous; it has come face to face with a new form of patriarchy in the media, says Ghaidaa al-Absi. (Also in Arabic.)

التحرش الجنسي في الشوارع: كسر حاجز الصمت في اليمن

حوالي 90% من النساء اليمنيات يتعرضن للتحرش الجنسي في الشوارع يوميا. مجموعة من الناشطات الشابات  في مجال حقوق النساء يستخدمن وسائل الإعلام الجديدة لإعطاء المرأة والرجل مساحه للتعبير وجمع البيانات لتعبئة صناع القرار ورجال الشرطة لتشكيل قانون لمعاقبة المتحرشين. الدعم للحملة لم يكن بالإجماع، بل واجه وجها لوجه شكل جديد من أشكال السلطة الأبوية في وسائل الإعلام، وتقول غيداء العبسي.

Syrian headlines: displacing the displaced

During the first two hours of the military onslaught on Al-Tadamon nearly 5,000 people - mostly women and children - were displaced, including hundreds of internally displaced people originally from other parts of Syria.

Are women occupying new movements?

The women's movement must argue against a de-historicized understanding of new social movements in the African region, profiling examples of women’s active participation and leadership and situating these movements in the history of African people’s struggles for building alternative world orders, says Hakima Abbas.

Mutilating bodies: the Muslim Brotherhood’s gift to Egyptian women

In Egypt the Muslim Brotherhood have offered to circumcise women for a nominal fee as part of their community services, a move that threatens to reverse decades of local struggle against the harmful practice argues Mariz Tadros

Decoding the “DNA of Patriarchy” in Muslim family laws

Why and how did verse 4:34, and not other verses in the Qur’an, become the foundation for the legal construction of marriage? Why are qiwamah and wilayah still the basis of gender relations in the imagination of modern-day jurists and Muslims who resist and denounce equality in marriage as alien to Islam? How can we Muslim women reconstruct the concepts ? 

"We are not women, we are Egyptians": spaces of protest and representation

A focus on the spaces where women asserted their public presence in the Egyptian revolution reveals a great deal about how changes in power relations between women and men can contribute to the transformatory potential of the revolution, says Nadia Taher.

February 20 movement: reflections of a young activist

The 20th February movement was seen by some as elitist and too focused on political demands, while the people were more concerned with daily economic hardship. The main challenge for young activists now is to re-establish a social dialogue within Moroccan society, says Sarra El Idrissi

Why women are at the heart of Egypt’s political trials and tribulations

The Egyptian elections delivered a parliament that has one of the lowest rates of female representation in the world. Yet this is the parliament that expresses the political will of the people of Egypt. It may also be one that ignores the social realities of gender and of women’s political participation, says Hania Sholkamy

The Saudi response to the ‘Arab spring’: containment and co-option

Saudi Arabia’s response to the ‘Arab spring’ has been an attempt to co-opt movements for change in a bid to maintain the status quo. Madawi Al-Rasheed talks to Deniz Kandiyoti about the contradictions of a ruling elite that promotes a conservative Islam, that threatens women’s existing rights abroad – as in Tunisia and Egypt – while it poses as the emancipator of women at home

Women in the new Libya: challenges ahead

Will the rights of the women, who participated in the struggles leading to fall of Gaddafi, be put under pressure in the new Libya? Kathryn Spellman-Poots assesses women’s status under Gadaffi and points to the perils ahead.

Egyptian storytelling: a vessel for power

Writing has come to mean place and presence, and presence gives us power to force those who don't acknowledge our existence to admit that they can hear the sound of our breath, says the young Egyptian writer Zainab Magdy

Tunisia: Feminist Fall?

Nine months after the overthrow of the former president, Tunisia has voted in the first open and fair election in the region. In the final part of a three part article Kristine Goulding argues that if a 'feminist fall' does not come to fruition, it will be because the citizens of Tunisia have shown democratically that feminism is not consummate on their agenda.

Tunisia: Arab Spring, Islamist Summer

Tunisia has voted in the first open and fair election in the region. In part two of a three part article Kristine Goulding warns against framing Islamism in direct opposition to women's rights. The Arab Spring redefined the roles of both women and the Islamist al-Nahda, and the two cannot be seen as mutually exclusive

Tunisia: Women's winter of discontent

Nine months after the overthrow of the former president, Tunisia has voted in the first open and fair election in the region. In part one of a three part article Kristine Goulding asks: Is a Tunisian feminist fall, driven by local, national and international support, possible? Or will countervailing forces of politics, social pressure and religion prevail?

"Mighty be our powers": peaceful women and the global south

“We have included the Arab Spring in this prize, but we have put it in a particular context. Namely, if one fails to include the women in the revolution and the new democracies, there will be no democracy.” Thorbjoern Jagland, chair of the Nobel Prize Committee

Sudan secession: resolving divisions?

South Sudan celebrates its independence this week, becoming the world's newest nation. But the festering divisions that are likely to haunt the north and South for the foreseeable future beg the question: will secession succeed in providing stability for the long-oppressed citizens of these two countries?

Sudan: a lonely road for women MPs in opposition

With the secession of South Sudan on July 9th, North Sudan returns to a familiar and depressing status quo - one party rule. With the elimination of southern constituency seats in Sudan’s National Assembly, only five women members of parliament remain in the opposition. Sara Abbas spoke to two of them
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