A Political Culture of Feminist Resistance: Exploring Women's Agency and Gender Dynamics in Yemen's Uprising (2011-15)


Strzelecka, Ewa K. 2018. "A Political Culture of Feminist Resistance: Exploring Women’s Agency and Gender Dynamics in Yemen’s Uprising (2011-15)." In Yemen and the Search for Stability: Power, Politics and Society after the Arab Spring, edited by Marie-Christine Heinze, 47-70. London: Bloomsbury Publishing. 

Author: Ewa K. Strzelecka


"...The purpose of this chapter is to address the gender dynamics of power in Yemen's revolutionary struggle for change. The discussion is carried out from the perspective of a new feminist scholarship, which shifts the focus of attention 'from a theoretical figure of patriarchy and exclusion to an analysis of the dynamic processes of women's participation in civil society and in public political life' (Siim 2000:2). This process must be contextualized. Therefore, my argument starts from a critical analysis of mechanisms of oppression and repression against women in Yemen and later explores the ways in which Yemeni activists respond and resist that oppression, producing what I call a 'political culture of feminist resistance.' It is my premise that resistance not only implies 'acting in opposition' but also reflects the 'potential for subversion and contestation in the interstices of establishes of established orders' (Kandiyoti 1998: 141). Feminist resistance, in particular, aims at subverting the dominant patriarchal structures of power. It implies collective and individual actions that promote social change in advancement of equality and justice for women. Although consolidation of feminist gains and the successful implementation of women's rights and freedoms in the aftermath of the Yemeni uprising have yet to be determined, my intention is to highlight the role of women's rights activists as agents of change, capable of influencing socio-political transformation and challenging gender power relations.
My study focuses on specific groups of revolutionary female activists who are highly motivated and actively dedicated to improving women's rights and gender justice, within a broader goal of seeking social change towards a new culture of democracy and human rights in Yemen. Most of them are urban and well-educated, middle or upper class women, who became women's rights activists as a result of the strength of their feminist consciousness. In their journey of personal and collective empowerment, they rebelled against patriarchal culture and enhanced their own strategies and actions for change, which went beyond the reductive oppositions of religious/secular, Islamist/liberal, traditional/modern, but were still struggling to deal effectively with different forms of violence that contributes substantially to the oppression of women in Yemen..." (Strzelecka 2018, 48).

Topics: Armed Conflict, Civil Wars, Feminisms, Gender, Gendered Discourses, Gendered Power Relations, Patriarchy, Gender Equality/Inequality, Livelihoods, Rights, Women's Rights, Violence Regions: MENA, Asia, Middle East Countries: Yemen

Year: 2018

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