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North Africa

Gender and Civil Society in the Middle East


Al-Ali, Nadje. 2003. “Gender and Civil Society in the Middle East.” International Feminist Journal of Politics 5 (2): 216–32.

Author: Nadje Al-Ali


This article explores the aims, activities and challenges of women's movements in the Middle East. It demonstrates the similarities among movements, which are related to both the historical emergence of women's movements, and in particular their close affiliation to nationalist struggles, as well as contemporary circumstances such as ambiguous government policies, repression of civil societies and prevailing authoritarian political cultures. This contribution also looks to the specific factors and conditions that shape women's movements in particular countries differently, thereby highlighting the great degree of heterogeneity among women's organizations in the Middle East. An analysis of the actual goals and activities of women's groups in various countries, such as Jordan, Egypt and Palestine reveals that women activists tend to get mobilized around issues related to modernization and development. Issues such as women's rights to education, work and political participation have traditionally been both the accepted demands of women activists as well as part of the discourses of male modernizers and reformers. However, the more sensitive issues of women's reproductive rights and violence against women, for example, have been taken up by only a few women's organizations in recent years. The relationship of women's organizations to the state is key to the analysis of women's movements in the region. Varying levels of dependence and autonomy can be detected not only in the comparison of one country with another but also within given country contexts.

Topics: Civil Society, Feminisms, Gender, Women, Gendered Power Relations, Gender Equality/Inequality, Governance, Nationalism, Rights, Women's Rights Regions: Africa, MENA, North Africa, Asia, Middle East Countries: Egypt, Jordan, Palestine / Occupied Palestinian Territories

Year: 2003

Gender Conflict and Development Volume II: Case Studies: Cambodia; Rwanda; Kosovo; Algeria; Somalia; Guatemala and Eritrea


Byrne, Bridget, Rachel Marcus, and Tanya Powers-Stevens. 1995. Gender, Conflict and Development Volume II: Case Studies: Cambodia; Rwanda; Kosovo; Algeria; Somalia; Guatemala and Eritrea. 35. Brighton, UK: Institute of Development Studies.

Authors: Bridget Byrne, Rachel Marcus, Tanya Powers-Stevens

Topics: Armed Conflict, Development, Gender Regions: Africa, MENA, Central Africa, East Africa, North Africa, Americas, Central America, Asia, Southeast Asia, Europe, Balkans, Eastern Europe Countries: Algeria, Cambodia, Eritrea, Guatemala, Kosovo, Rwanda, Somalia

Year: 1995

The European Commission Considers Gender & Security


Turshen, Meredeth. 2006. “The European Commission Considers Gender & Security.” Review of African Political Economy 33 (108): 358–367.

Author: Meredeth Turshen

Topics: Gender, International Organizations, Security Regions: Africa, North Africa, Europe

Year: 2006

Les Contrebandières: Woman as Smuggler


Boraki, Chemseddoha. 2001. “Les Contrebandières: Woman as Smuggler.” Women: a Cultural Review 12 (2): 176-91.

Author: Chemseddoha Boraki


The summer of 1999 marked the end of an era in Morocco. For the majority of the Moroccan people political power had rested in the hands of one man for their entire lives. That man was King Hassan II and he was now dead. While he was a monstrous tyrant in the eyes of some, for many he was to be deeply mourned as a man who represented a link in a royal chain that could be traced back to the prophet Muhammed and as such was the embodiment of the faith, the Commander of the Faithful. It was to be Hassan's task to bring Morocco into the modern world, and sultan became king. This arduous task, however, necessitated a blunt and brutal approach to crush tribal dissidence and proletarian insurrection. Nonetheless, as his son Muhammed VI was inaugurated, the legacy of Hassan's passion for a united kingdom was evident in the political landscape. Before his death Hassan had made some amends with the demons he himself had unleashed. Prisoners of conscience were being freed, oppositional voices were being heard and new democratic structures were slowly being put in place. In effect, the ground had been laid for his son to take the nation in new directions. One of these was an increased attention to the position of women in Moroccan society. As her brother was being prepared for his new position in life, Lalla Meryem, Hassan's eldest daughter, was receiving wide coverage in the press for any number of initiatives and pronouncements. That such a highly placed woman should speak out was not simply the timely intervention of a dutiful daughter. To those familiar with Morocco, names such as that of Fatima Mernissi and Zakya Daoud will already be familiar. Both these writers had been asking difficult questions about the position of women in Moroccan society for several decades. Films such as Jillali Ferhati's Reed Dolls (1981) and The Beach of Lost Children (1991) played a similar role in questioning the society's treatment of women. In fact Moroccan fiction, right at its inception, in Driss Chraibi's first work Le Passé simple (1956), had sought to understand the dynamics of patriarchal family life and the role of the mother, a theme that echoes in the writing of Tahar Ben Jelloun. More recently the independence struggle has been seen from the perspective of a woman in the fascinating account of the period given in Leila Abouzeid's semi-autobiographical novel Year of the Elephant, which was excerpted in this very journal, or her more recently translated memoir Return to Childhood. So Lalla Meryem's intervention was perhaps not so surprising. What was more surprising was the appearance, at the same time, of reviews of an avowedly feminist collection of essays in newspapers such as Le Matin du Sahara, a paper widely seen as the mouthpiece of the government. The book was a collection of articles edited by Aïcha Belarbi and entitled Initiatives féminine. It was published by the small Casablanca publishing house Editions Le Fennec and is the latest in a list of publications about Moroccan women that stretches back to Portraits de femmes, published in 1987. That such a publication can achieve such a review speaks as much for the potential for change in Moroccan society as the pronouncements of the new king. Women: a cultural review would like to introduce the collection to English-speaking readers by translating one of the chapters in the book. Chemseddoha Boraki's 'Les Contrebandières' takes up the intriguing economic theme of smuggling in northern Morocco. Through the use of memory, literature and observation it interrogates both the role of smuggling in a country such as Morocco and the part played by women in that particular trade. Its conclusion demands that the image and position of women within Moroccan society be profoundly rethought.

Topics: Economies, Gender, Women, Patriarchy, Governance, Rights, Women's Rights, Trafficking Regions: Africa, MENA, North Africa Countries: Morocco

Year: 2001

The Politics of Integrating Gender to State Development Processes: Trends, Opportunities, and Constraints in Bangladesh, Chile, Jamaica, Mali, Morocco, and Uganda


Goetz, Anne-Marie. 1995. The Politics of Integrating Gender to State Development Processes: Trends, Opportunities, and Constraints in Bangladesh, Chile, Jamaica, Mali, Morocco, and Uganda. Geneva: UNRISD.

Author: Anne-Marie Goetz


This paper provides an assessment of efforts in six of the seven countries to improve public accountability to women in the development process. The paper begins with a brief theoretical discussion of feminist perspectives on the developmentalist state (Part I). It then goes on to provide an overview of some of the more prominent political, economic and social trends of the past two decades, against which efforts have been made to institutionalize gender in state development processes (Part II). In the main body of the paper (Part III), the author provides a historical and comparative analysis of efforts in the six case study countries to institutionalize gender concerns. The picture that emerges is one of extraordinarily fractured trajectories of institutionalization within the public administration. Most of the gender units within government bureaucracy that are studied here have a mandate to pursue their agenda across other government departments — a project that is sometimes called “mainstreaming”. For this they have devised a range of policy instruments (e.g. gender guidelines, gender training) intended to bring about gender-sensitive institutional, policy and operational changes across the public sector in order to make responsiveness to women’s interests a routine part of each sector’s activities. Despite significant efforts, the attempts to routinize gender concerns have for the most part been ineffective because gender units have been unable to provide the necessary incentives to encourage a positive reception in other departments. Some of the critical areas for gender mainstreaming considered in the paper include the national development plan and budget which constitute important public statements expressing politically selected priorities for change and progress, and are based on a macro-economic framework designed to create the conditions under which this national vision can be realized. Efforts so far in the countries studied have failed to ensure a systematic connection between national policy commitments to the integration of gender in development and the budgetary allocations that are necessary to realize those commitments. The chronic short-staffing of gender administrative units, compounded by their weak analytical skills, has tended to contribute to this failure. Equally important, however, has been the political weakness of gender constituents outside the state. In the politics of policy-making a critical point of leverage on decision makers is popular pressure and public opinion — the presence of an active constituency.

Topics: Development, Economies, Feminisms, Gender, Women, Gender Mainstreaming, Governance, Political Participation Regions: Africa, MENA, East Africa, North Africa, West Africa, Americas, Caribbean countries, South America, Asia, South Asia Countries: Bangladesh, Chile, Jamaica, Mali, Morocco, Uganda

Year: 1995

Women’s Electoral Participation in Egypt: The Implications of Gender for Voter Recruitment and Mobilization


Blaydes, Lisa, and Safinaz El Tarouty. 2009. “Women’s Electoral Participation in Egypt: The Implications of Gender for Voter Recruitment and Mobilization.” Middle East Journal 63 (3): 364-80.

Authors: Lisa Blaydes, Safinaz El Tarouty


To what extent do gender considerations impact voter recruitment strategies in Middle Eastern elections? Based on an examination of voting behavior in Egypt, we find that clientelist voter recruitment tends to empower women economically rather than politically as elections provide an opportunity for disadvantaged women to sell their vote to local vote brokers or offer their vote to a local patron in exchange for a future payoff. In contrast, women who vote for Islamist candidates may be able to increase the influence of their political support by creating common knowledge about the popularity of their candidate and by reducing the effectiveness of government repression.

Topics: Corruption, Gender, Women, Governance, Elections, Political Participation, Religion Regions: Africa, MENA, North Africa, Middle East Countries: Egypt

Year: 2009

The Human Rights of Middle Eastern & Muslim Women: A Project for the 21st Century


Afary, Janet. 2004. “The Human Rights of Middle Eastern & Muslim Women: A Project for the 21st Century.” Human Rights Quarterly 26: 106–25.

Author: Janet Afary


This article first explores the state of human rights of Middle Eastern/Muslim Women in a selection of North African, Central Asian, and Middle Eastern countries. It then contrasts this present state of oppression with the emerging legal reforms and attempts made by a new generation of women’s rights activists. The activist are building new institutions in their homelands despite numerous obstacles and great personal and political risk, creating the need for a new dialogue and approach to human rights in the Middle East.

Topics: Gender, Women, Religion, Rights, Human Rights Regions: Africa, MENA, North Africa, Asia, Central Asia, Middle East

Year: 2004

Women and Politics in Algeria from the War of Independence to Our Day


Abu-Haidar, Farida, and Daniele Djamila Amrane-Minne. 1999. “Women and Politics in Algeria from the War of Independence to Our Day.” Research in African Literatures 30 (3): 62-77.

Authors: Farida Abu-Haidar, Daniele Djamila Amrane-Minne

Topics: Armed Conflict, National Liberation Wars, Gender, Women, Political Participation Regions: Africa, MENA, North Africa Countries: Algeria

Year: 1999

Gender and Conflict Transformation: Nagaland and Egypt


Goswami, Triveni. 2007. Gender and Conflict Transformation: Nagaland and Egypt. New Delhi: Akansha Publishing House.

Author: Triveni Goswami

Topics: Armed Conflict, Gender, Women, Governance, Political Participation Regions: Africa, MENA, North Africa, Asia, South Asia Countries: Egypt, India

Year: 2007

Sahrawi Women in the Liberation Struggle of the Sahrawi People


Lippert, Anne. 1992. “Sahrawi Women in the Liberation Struggle of the Sahrawi People.” Signs 17 (3): 636-51.

Author: Anne Lippert

Topics: Armed Conflict, National Liberation Wars, Gender, Women Regions: Africa, MENA, North Africa Countries: Western Sahara

Year: 1992


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