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Home » Resources » What the Women Say: The Arab Spring & Implications for Women

What the Women Say: The Arab Spring & Implications for Women

Publication Date: 
December, 2011

As the Arab world rumbles and shakes, women in the region are experiencing the good, the bad and the ugly that comes with instability, transition and crisis. From Tunisia and Egypt to Syria, Libya and Bahrain, women have been present and vocal in the street protest movements, standing shoulder to shoulder with the men, resisting the batons and tear gas, and being killed. Many have been key organizers and leaders in social networking, helping to articulate a common message and vision of freedom, democracy and equality, and providing logistical support to men at the frontlines of violence. They have also faced many of the same physical and sexual threats and risks that women elsewhere have encountered during crises and transitions, including harassment, assault and death. Despite their contribution, they are again facing exclusion from the political processes under way. 

While they made major gains in education and civil rights in the 1950s and 60s, Middle Eastern women were marginalized from politics and decision-making throughout recent decades. The current transition period does not bode well either. By omission or commission, the emerging male-dominated leaderships seem to forget that democracy without equality in all aspects of the law and full participation of 50% of the population population is another form of authoritarianism.

The political developments and status of women differ across countries. In the first of ICAN’s What theWomen Say; MENA Region briefs, we highlight common regional trends that threaten basic norms of democracy, equality and affect women’s abilities to participate in and influence the decision-making processes – nationally and internationally - that will determine the course of these countries’ futures and their lives. 

About ICAN: Formed in 2006, the International Civil Society Action Network (ICAN) aims to strengthen women’s participation and influence in conflict prevention, social justice, coexistence, and peacebuilding efforts, in situations of closed political space and conflict affected states. ICAN’s MENA program seeks to elevate the voices and impact of women’s civil society groups on issues of rights, security and peace in countries undergoing transitions, affected by rising militarism, and extremism targeting women.

Read the Full Paper Here