• A New Feminism? Gender Dynamics in Morocco’s February 20th Movement

      Salime, Zakia (Virtual Commons - Bridgewater State University, 2012-12-20)
      The February 20th movement shows new modes of engagement with feminism, despite a striking absence of feminist organizations from the protest movement. Nevertheless, and in sharp contrast with most accounts that posit the irrelevance of feminism for Moroccan youth’s identifications and political subjectivities, I argue that feminism has not only penetrated the social imaginary of a new generation of activists, but has also informed their practices. What kind of tension does this appropriation of feminism by the youth of February 20th bring about with traditional feminist circles? Does this high visibility of women in February 20th indicate the rise of a new feminism? I will first briefly locate February 20th in a genealogy of feminist activism in Morocco showing places of friction, influence and tensions. Second, I will provide some indications of what I call a new feminism. Third, I will analyze the gender dynamics among the various components of February 20th, notably the secular and Islamist. I will conclude by sketching a new map of protests led by women and not necessarily intelligible under the old cartography of feminism.
    • Arab Spring: Women’s Empowerment in Algeria

      Sinha, Sangeeta (Virtual Commons - Bridgewater State University, 2012-12-20)
      The Arab Spring brought turmoil, upheaval and regime change in its wake. But these winds of change barely touched Algeria, and when it did we did not hear or see any women. In order to answer the two questions, the paper explores the status of women in present-day Algeria within a historical social and political context. Understanding the status of women is done by delving into some of the historical processes that Algerian women have had to confront. In order to understand the empowerment process, the study uses the empowerment framework as outlined by the Beijing Platform of action and modified by Moghadum.
    • Barriers Hindering Jordanian Women’s Advancement to Higher Political and Leadership Positions

      Al Maaitah, Rowaida; Oweis, Arwa; Olimat, Hmoud; Altarawneh, Ikhlas; Al Maaitah, Hadeel (Virtual Commons - Bridgewater State University, 2012-12-20)
      Purpose: The purposes of this study were to identify barriers hindering Jordanian women’s advancement to higher political and leadership positions and to identify main actions/strategies to facilitate Jordanian women’s advancement to higher political and leadership positions. Methodology: A cross sectional survey was used where both quantitative and qualitative data were collected utilizing a self-administered questionnaire. A convenience sample of 500 Jordanian women was selected from women working in political and leadership positions in various settings including government, Non Government Organizations (NGOs), business, educational and academic institutions. The Study involved a self administered questionnaire with closed and open ended questions that include the demographic and personal questions, barriers hindering Jordanian women’s advancement to higher political and leadership positions and main actions/strategies to facilitate Jordanian women’s advancement to higher political and leadership positions. Findings: In their endeavour toward advancement in leadership positions in work and community, women face major obstacles and impediments. These barriers encompass a wide range of obstacles, which include political and legal, personal, family, socio-cultural, and economic barriers. Discrimination against women was a cross cutting issue for all barriers. Political and Legal support, awareness raising and empowerment of women were main issues suggested by women leaders to enhance to higher political and leadership positions. Women should work hard to stick to the heart of the Awakening and fight rather than demand by the name of democracy for their rights in politics and the building of their nation. Recommendations: The study suggests establishment of solid gender-sensitive policies, empowerment of women by strengthening their leadership abilities and capabilities, awareness raising of society about women role in development and involvement of women in the making of democracy and political reform to play an active role in all higher national committees and task groups of political reform.
    • “Today I have seen angels in shape of humans:”1 An Emotional History of the Egyptian Revolution through the Narratives of Female Personal Bloggers

      Galán, Susana (Virtual Commons - Bridgewater State University, 2012-12-20)
      This article examines the intertwinings between emotion and political protest in the 2011 Egyptian revolution through the narratives of Egyptian female personal bloggers. Drawing from scholarship in the emotional turn of social movement theory and using Deborah Gould’s concept of emotional habitus, it aims at describing the dominant social moods at different moments of the revolutionary process, in order to address how these emotions fostered or, on the contrary, inhibited protest for social change. For this purpose, the article considers personal blogs as a modified form of Lauren Berlant’s intimate publics, alternative spaces through which affect circulates and a shared understanding of reality is constructed. Through qualitative content analysis of 11 personal blogs written by Egyptian women, the article tracks the different emotional habitus through their narratives. It will shed light on how a pre-revolutionary mood of frustration and resignation gave way, after the revelation of Khaled Said’s murder by the police and the success of the Tunisian revolution, to an emotional habitus characterized by hope that opened a political horizon of change and culminated in Mubarak’s resignation after 18 days of protest. Once the regime was toppled, however, the personal discourses published in the selected blogs testify to how the economic difficulties and the political instability of the reconstruction time contributed to modify the euphoric mood of the uprisings and turn it into an affective state of frustration and disappointment.
    • Arab Women, Social Media, and the Arab Spring: Applying the framework of digital reflexivity to analyze gender and online activism

      Newsom, Victoria A.; Lengel, Lara (Virtual Commons - Bridgewater State University, 2012-12-20)
      This essay analyzes the engagement of Arab feminist activisms online, most notably during the citizen revolutions in Tunisia and Egypt, and, specifically, women’s use of online social networking to aid social change. Building on research examining how Arab activists and activist organizations, including feminist organizations, mobilize, produce knowledge, and develop and share resources online and, in particular, drawing from research on Arab activisms and social media this study aims to understand how online activist discourses function, both locally and globally. To do so, we utilize a schema of information production and consumption devised to analyze activist engagement and citizen journalism, particularly the negotiation of communication messages by various agents through multiple stages of transmission and dissemination (Newsom, Lengel, & Cassara, C, 2011). We look at the ideal of local knowledge as it is transformed into global knowledge, and how the messages are open to manipulation and bias through the various stages of mediation and gatekeeping cited in the framework. Through the application of this framework, we can see how gendered messages are constructed, essentialized, reconstructed, and made invisible by the consumer media system.
    • Why Women are Losing Rights in Post-Revolutionary Egypt

      Dawoud, Aliaa (Virtual Commons - Bridgewater State University, 2012-12-20)
      A backlash against women’s rights emerged in post-revolutionary Egypt. This paper argues that one of the reasons is the fact that former President Mubarak, his wife and son were the key decision makers when it came to women’s rights. These decisions were reflected in the media so that women’s rights came to be associated with government policy personalized around the first lady. The paper demonstrates that the backlash did not emerge suddenly after Mubarak was ousted from power, but that dissent against Mubaraks’ decisions pertaining to women was prevalent in the media long before the 25th of January revolution. The paper builds on a number of theories. One of them is whether the notion of personal authoritarianism was applicable to the former President’s wife and son and not just to the President himself. It also takes a new element into consideration: the media, and will analyze the drawbacks of women’s rights as addressed by an authoritarian regime.
    • Social networks and women’s mobilization in Tunisia

      Zlitni, Sami; Touati, Zeineb (Virtual Commons - Bridgewater State University, 2012-12-20)
      After the fall of Ben Ali’s regime, fears were growing as various religious parties have decided to run in the elections to the Constituent Assembly of October 23th, 2011. The Code of Personal Status, the very symbol of Bourguibian modernity, might well be challenged. Beyond their presence on traditional media, feminist movements have organized themselves online so as to make themselves heard and to be able to mobilize public opinion. Facebook has become a place that maximizes visibility, thus allowing Tunisian feminists to make their ideas and their actions widely known. By favoring distanciated commitment, Facebook is a tool that has brought about an upheaval in the various forms of militancy and the militant’s relationships to organizational structures.
    • Jordanian Women’s Political Participation: On the Verge of Arab Spring

      Al-Adwan, Abdulhalim M. (Virtual Commons - Bridgewater State University, 2012-12-20)
      Recent decades in Jordan have witnessed considerable changes in women’s roles in the political sphere and in the community. Jordan has passed, modified, or adopted legislation that fosters the rights of women and the abolition of discrimination against them. Women experienced real visibility in higher leadership positions with 10.8% in the lower house and 11.7% in the senate. Yet, while women earn higher levels of education, their participation in the labor market is relatively low, and those who want to join the labor force meet higher levels of unemployment. Although women have made real progress in the public sphere, their participation is still modest and needs to be fostered and enhanced. More needs to be done to educate Jordanian women on political participation, and on overcoming various obstacles that hinder their efforts towards more visible and effective roles.
    • Looking at me, are you? Social status and the veil

      Böck, Angelika (Virtual Commons - Bridgewater State University, 2012-12-20)
      In this article I discuss the dialogical method which is used to study the idea of perception among individuals, especially to understand the question of perception toward the veil in Yemen in 2007. Furthermore I elaborate on my exploration of “portrayal” as an art form which lies at the basis of my approach. To be occupied with matters of the veil means to deal with questions of image and gaze. Therefore I also try to give a basic overview on this topic. The article ends with a short description of a corresponding experiment I carried out in Germany one year later. By comparing the Western and Eastern responses to the veiled female body, this experiment reveals typical culturally shaped preconceptions.
    • The Role of Women in the Arab World: Toward a New Wave of Democratization, or an Ebbing Wave Toward Authoritarianism?

      Sika, Nadine (Virtual Commons - Bridgewater State University, 2012-12-20)
      The Special Issue is devoted to examining the role of Arab women in the ongoing uprisings and revolutions sweeping the Arab world over the past two years. It covers case studies of women in Tunisia, Yemen, Jordan, Bahrain, Egypt, Syria, the Sudan, and other countries in the region. Two major questions are going to be addressed: how influential were Arab women in the “Arab Spring” of uprisings, and to what degree are Arab women’s rights to equality and freedom going to be attained and respected after the creation of new regimes, such as in Tunisia, Egypt, Yemen, and Syria, which are the countries that are undergoing the most political change thus far.
    • The Role of Women in the Egyptian 25th January Revolution

      al-Natour, Manal (Virtual Commons - Bridgewater State University, 2012-12-20)
      This article examines women’s roles in the January 25th Revolution in Egypt. I examine portrayals of women’s roles in the revolution in literary fiction released shortly after the revolution and in digital media. I argue that the fictional and even nonfictional texts are incomplete in their depiction of female roles. I further examine the representation of women’s roles in digital media, specifically blogs, Facebook, and Twitter, and argue that digital social media give the most pervasive, extensive, and accurate description of women’s roles in the revolution; it not only engages women politically, but it also provides a wide range of roles for female participation in the revolution.
    • One Step Forward, Two Steps Back? Egyptian Women within the Confines of Authoritarianism

      Sika, Nadine; Khodary, Yasmin (Virtual Commons - Bridgewater State University, 2012-12-20)
      This paper examines the pre and post January 25th political dynamics in Egypt, how these have affected the role of women in the private, public and political spheres. It analyzes the dynamics of the development of Egyptian women’s organizations, and the extent to which these may develop into an Egyptian feminist movement. An overview of historical, political, and social contexts of the role of Egyptian women’s organizations will provide an understanding of their main accomplishments from Nasser to Mubarak. The study shows how the early women’s organizations were directly linked with the ruling authorities and how these have added to the authoritarian structure of the regime. The paper moves to analyze how women’s organizations have later evolved into more independent organizations, how they have influenced independent women activists, who have positioned themselves against the authoritarian power structure of the Egyptian political system. The paper finally assesses the extent to which women’s rights are going to be protected or rolled back under the rule of the military and later the Islamists in the post-Mubarak era.
    • “Every knot has someone to undo it.” Using the Capabilities Approach as a lens to view the status of women leading up to the Arab Spring in Syria

      Charles, Lorraine; Denman, Kate (Virtual Commons - Bridgewater State University, 2012-12-20)
      The status of women in Syria has undergone great change in the last century and particularly in the decade leading up to the Syrian Arab Spring. Despite this advancement, many women are still not permitted the freedom to convert their capabilities into chosen valued activities and achievements. This has resulted in a lack of agency to decide, act and bring change in Syria. Most women do not partake in political and public life and, due to the nature of the regime and the socio-cultural landscape, their freedom to make decisions affecting their status within the public and private sphere is restricted. Women have achieved the capability of being educated, yet many have not converted this into the functioning of employment. The conversion of a capability is restricted by the social conversion factors that a patriarchal society influences. However, there are many Syrian women whose freedoms are less restricted. It was found that social class and geographic location have a significant impact in women’s ability to achieve their capabilities and functionings. Women born into the middle and upper-classes in urban areas have far more opportunities than those born into lower class families and in rural areas. The Syrian Arab Spring has seen women using their agency and challenging traditional gendered roles within the society, though it remains to be seen what the future holds for women. Nonetheless, women are demanding a more equal society that is inclusive of all women’s freedoms.
    • Failing the Masses: Buthaina Shabaan and the Public Intellectual Crisis

      Al-Saleh, Asaad (Virtual Commons - Bridgewater State University, 2012-12-20)
      This article discusses the problematic and double-sided role of the public intellectual in the Syrian revolution, which started on March 15, 2011 and is still unfolding. When recently challenged by Syrians, the regime enforced its control by carrying out military operations against its own citizens, not without endorsement by a large portion of the population. The article follows the case of Buthaina Shabaan (b.1953-), the writer, professor, and advocate of the Syrian regime. While spurring the populace to embrace the possibility of democratic reform, this female intellectual has accepted—even embraced—the political control employed by an authoritarian one-party regime, which uses her as a representative of their supposed progressive and women’s liberation agendas. Shabaan has been playing a significant role in supporting and ultimately sustaining a totalitarian regime, compromising in the process the interests of women and even children, for whose cause she has long claimed to be a champion and a spokesperson. The shift of Shabaan from being a feminist to serving the propaganda of the regime has damaged her integrity as an intellectual. This shift requires not only a revisionary approach to the Western reception of her, but also an analysis of the way the Syrian people have perceived her role in undermining the revolution.
    • Bahraini Women in the 21st Century: Disputed Legacy of the Unfinished Revolution

      Karolak, Magdalena (Virtual Commons - Bridgewater State University, 2012-12-20)
      The role of women in the Arab Spring uprisings requires special attention. Indeed, women participated alongside men in recent political movements and were actively involved in shaping the outcomes of these processes. The case of Bahrain is especially interesting. Even though the Bahraini “Day of Rage” movement was ultimately marginalized at large, it had unlikely consequences for Bahraini women. As female empowerment has been a high priority on the government’s agenda, participation of women in the public sphere serves important functions and in the aftermath of Bahraini uprising it got an additional boost. The aim of this paper is to assess how the role of Bahraini women has been interwoven with political liberalization reforms in the first decade on the 21st century and assess its importance for the Bahraini authorities. Secondly, it aims at analyzing the outcomes of Arab Spring uprising for Bahraini women. It asserts that as the pro-government and anti-government movements took to the streets, social divisions of Bahrainis deepened and equally, affected female activists. Ultimately, the article ends with a discussion over the prospects of female empowerment by pro-democracy movements in the Middle East.
    • Acknowledgement and Dedication

      Olimat, Muhamad S. (Virtual Commons - Bridgewater State University, 2012-12-20)
    • Women at a Crossroads: Sudanese Women and Political Transformation

      Sherwood, Leah F. (Virtual Commons - Bridgewater State University, 2012-12-20)
      The ‘Arab Spring’ is a nuanced phenomenon of significance to African democracy and women’s rights in Sudan – north and south. Political transformation processes underway in postrevolution Arab states simultaneously give voice to human rights advocates and rise to Islamist political groups. The reverberating trend presents a risk of deepening Islamist governance in Sudan and reinforcing patriarchal patterns of kinship in South Sudan. It also offers opportunity, north and south, for Sudanese women to form a common agenda, engage politically, promote a vibrant civil society, challenge human rights violations and develop a voice through participation. Given the Islamist upsurge in the region, a review of literature highlights what women in post-revolution Arab states have reported back in terms of the effect the popular uprisings have had on their rights. In light of the outcomes, approaches are advanced that will strengthen Sudanese women’s movements and better position them to exploit opportunity for progress in the period of political transformation on the horizon in Sudan and South Sudan.
    • The Muslim Sisters and the January 25th Revolution

      Farag, Mona (Virtual Commons - Bridgewater State University, 2012-12-20)
      As the world watched in anticipation and trepidation the powerful force that was the January 25 revolution, one vital question stuck in everyone’s mind: how large was the influence of the Muslim Brotherhood in the events that took place during those 18 days prior to the stepping down of Mubarak? More importantly, with the newfound sense of freedom and democracy that has overtaken Egypt’s streets, how will the future of the Muslim Sisters be impacted? This paper will focus on the activities spearheaded by the Muslim Sisters during the revolution and the months leading up to the People’s and Legislative Assembly, and will assess their political standing within the Society of Muslim Brothers and within its newly formed political party: the Freedom and Justice Party. A review of the commentaries and reactions to the activities that took place by the Sisters during and after the revolution will be assessed. These sources will also clarify the picture of what characterizes Egypt’s political playing field today: post-January 25 revolution and the influx of newly formed political parties onto Egypt’s political field. This paper will conclude with a ‘Predictions’ portion of the analysis of the Muslim Brotherhood’s political future, in light of the upcoming elections and the endless opportunities it holds for the well-organized movement that is the Muslim Brotherhood.
    • Arab Spring and Women in Kuwait

      Olimat, Muhamad S. (Virtual Commons - Bridgewater State University, 2012-12-20)
      The Arab Spring, a revolutionary wave of protests and rebellions, and a process of regime change and democratization is sweeping the Arab world, but marginally touching women’s issues in Kuwait. While Arab women in Tunisia, Libya, Egypt, Morocco, Yemen, Jordan, and Syria are active participants and co-beneficiaries of the process of change, Kuwaiti women have lost their electoral gains made in 2009 in the latest elections held in February of 2012. The objective of this paper is to examine the impact of Arab Spring on women in Kuwait, and their continued struggle for political participation in the country. It will also highlight the accomplishments of the women’s movement and its inability to utilize the general atmosphere supportive of women’s rights in Kuwait to maintain its parliamentary representation in the Kuwaiti National Assembly.
    • The Way Forward for Girls’ Education in Afghanistan

      Kissane, Carolyn (Virtual Commons - Bridgewater State University, 2012-12-21)
      Lack of rights and access to education are problems that have challenged Afghan women throughout the history of their country. True political reform in Afghanistan is contingent upon the solving of these problems, as women’s education is essential not only for the development of a more stable government, but also for raising living standards. Women’s lack of access to education in Afghanistan is reinforced by beliefs rooted in the religious and familial tradition of community. Although Islamic ideologies have often been distorted and manipulated by leaders to control and subjugate the lives of women, Islam cannot be ignored in the democratization of Afghanistan; it plays too great a role in Afghan society. Therefore, Islam must be respected and invoked as a catalyst to promote women’s education and rights. The Islamic Republic of Afghanistan presents a complex landscape in which to examine the gender roles and relations generally, and a woman’s access to education specifically, as they are embedded in the country’s history and religious ideology. The democratization of education requires a pluralistic education model that involves State and nongovernmental sectors, including secular and non-secular institutions, making itself accessible and acceptable to the greatest number of Afghans possible. Education that teaches and encourages critical thought, ijtihad, and introduces concepts of gender equality—supported by Qur’anic scholarship led by Islamic feminists—is imperative. This is a bottom-up approach to education, which centralizes the needs and interests of Afghan women and girls. It is the aim of this chapter to explore the possibilities of education for girls as a motivating influence on democratization and how a pluralistic approach to education can alleviate the historical gender inequities that have hindered the country for centuries.