Women in the Middle East and North Africa : Agents of Change book cover
1st Edition

Women in the Middle East and North Africa
Agents of Change

ISBN 9780415573214
Published December 1, 2010 by Routledge
312 Pages

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Book Description

This book examines the position of women in the contemporary Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region. Although it is culturally diverse, this region shares many commonalities with relation to women that are strong, deep, and pervasive: a space-based patriarchy, a culturally strong sense of religion, a smooth co-existence of tradition and modernity, a transitional stage in development, and multilingualism/multiculturalism.

Experts from within the region and from outside provide both theoretical angles and case studies, drawing on fieldwork from Egypt, Oman, Palestine, Israel, Turkey, Iran, Tunisia, Algeria, Morocco, and Spain. Addressing the historical, socio-cultural, political, economic, and legal issues in the region, the chapters cover five major aspects of women’s agency:

  • political agency
  • civil society activism
  • legal reform
  • cultural and social agencies
  • religious and symbolic agencies.

Bringing to light often marginalized topics and issues, the book underlines the importance of respecting specificities when judging societies and hints at possible ways of promoting the MENA region. As such, it is a valuable addition to existing literature in the field of political science, sociology, and women’s studies.

Table of Contents

Introduction: Contextualizing Women’s Agency in the MENA Region  Part 1: Reconsidering the Foundations of Women, Islam and Political Agency  1. The Veil: Religious/Historical Foundations of the Modern Political Discourse  2. Women, Islam and Political Agency in Morocco  3. Assia Djebar and Malika Mokeddem: Neo-Colonial Agents or Post-Colonial Subjects?  4. Women and Political Reform in Israel  Part 2: Women’s Leadership in Civil Society  5. Women’s NGOs and Social Change in Morocco  6. Palestinian Women’s Movements: From Active Militants to Stateless Citizens  Part 3: Women and Legal Reform  7. Tunisia at the Forefront of the Arab World: Two Waves of Gender Legislation  8. Feminism and Family Law in Iran: The Struggle for Women’s Economic Citizenship in the Islamic Republic  9. The Legal Status of Women in Egypt: Reform and Social Inertia  Part 4: Women, Social, Cultural, Religious and Symbolic Change  10. Algerian Women as Actors of Change and Social Cohesion  11. Women in Turkey: Caught in the Bind Between Tradition and Modernity  12. Women and Language in Tunisia  13. Women, Education and the Redefinition of Empowerment and Change in a Traditional Society: The Case of Oman  14. Transforming Religious Expression: Ishelhin (Berber) Women and the Creation of a Local Islamic Tradition  15. Moroccan Women Contrabandists: Interferences in Public Space  16. The Orient Within: Women "In-between" Under Francoism

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Fatima Sadiqi is Professor of Linguistics and Gender Studies at the University of Fez, Morocco. A former Fulbright Scholar and recipient of a Harvard Fellowship, she has written a number of books and is a UN Gender Expert.

Moha Ennaji is Professor at the University of Fez and a Visiting Professor at Rutgers University. He is the author and/or editor of numerous books and articles on culture and gender studies in North Africa.


"This book makes an important contribution towards understanding women’s status in contemporary Middle East and North African (MENA) countries... This book successfully encapsulates the diversity and similarity in women’s status and the response of the state in MENA countries. It also addresses the convergence of various feminist strands within the MENA region and generates a dynamic debate on women within Islam." - Keerty Nakray, OP Jindal Global University, New Delhi, India; Journal of Human Development and Capabilities: A Multi-Disciplinary Journal for People-Centered Development, 13:4, 625-626