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Mapping Arab Women’s Movements

Mapping Arab Women’s Movements: A Century of Transformations from Within

Pernille Arenfeldt
Nawar Al-Hassan Golley
Copyright Date: 2012
Pages: 408
https://www.jstor.org/stable/j.ctt15m7hb5
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  • Book Info
    Mapping Arab Women’s Movements
    Book Description:

    This pioneering collection of analyses focuses on the ideologies and activities of formal women’s organizations and informal women’s groups across a range of Arab countries. With contributions on Syria, Jordan, Lebanon, Palestine, Iraq, Egypt, Kuwait, the United Arab Emirates, Yemen, and the Arab diaspora in the United States, Mapping Arab Women’s Movements contributes to delineating similarities and differences between historical and contemporary efforts toward greater gender justice. The authors explore the origins of women’s movements, trace their development during the past century, and address the impact of counter-movements, alliances, and international collaborations within the region and beyond, providing accessible accounts for scholars and others interested in the Middle East and in women’s movements in other settings.

    eISBN: 978-1-61797-353-6
    Subjects: Sociology

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. Notes on Contributors
    (pp. ix-xiv)
  4. Acknowledgments
    (pp. xv-xvi)
  5. Introduction
    (pp. 1-6)
    Pernille Arenfeldt and Nawar Al-Hassan Golley

    Mapping Arab Women’s Movements: A Century of Transformations from Withinpresents a pioneering collection of analyses focused on the ideologies and activities of formal women’s organizations and informal women’s groups across a range of Arab countries. With contributions on Syria, Jordan, Lebanon, Palestine, Iraq, Egypt, Kuwait, United Arab Emirates, Yemen, and the Arab diaspora in the United States,Mapping Arab Women’s Movementscontributes to delineating similarities and differences between historical and contemporary efforts toward greater gender justice. The contributing authors explore the origins of women’s movements, trace their development during the past century, and address the impact of counter-movements, alliances,...

  6. 1 Arab Women’s Movements: Developments, Priorities, and Challenges
    (pp. 7-42)
    Pernille Arenfeldt and Nawar Al-Hassan Golley

    This chapter synthesizes some of the central findings presented in the ensuing chapters. In the first section we discuss some of the key concepts; part two outlines the main trends in the developments of the women’s movements across the region and identifies their main priorities. We conclude the chapter with a discussion of the recurring/future challenges of Arab women’s movements.

    The purpose ofMapping Arab Women’s Movementsis to disseminate empirical knowledge and to stimulate further research; the volume is not intended as a systematic contribution to the rapidly growing theoretical literature on social movements, women’s movements, and feminism. However,...

  7. 2 Convergences and Divergences: Egyptian Women’s Activisms over the Last Century
    (pp. 43-64)
    Leslie Lewis

    Early on, while conducting my ethnographic fieldwork among members of an Islamic piety movement in Cairo, I had a conversation with a small group of women in which I raised the topic of feminism. Upon hearing the word, all four women stiffened. For them, I learned, feminism did not symbolize women’s liberation, neither did it portend the inevitable enhancement of their rights. On the contrary, it signified women’s debasement, and the blind parroting of the norms of a corrupt, sexually objectifying west. Feminists, according to this group of women, had lost all connection and allegiance to religion, nation, and womanhood....

  8. 3 Challenges and Opportunities: The Women’s Movement in Syria
    (pp. 65-92)
    Pauline Homsi Vinson and Nawar Al-Hassan Golley

    The women’s movement in Syria has managed to withstand formidable challenges and attain significant progress in spite of persistent obstacles and enduring limitations.¹ Gaining momentum during the Arab ‘awakening,’ or intellectual renaissance, at the end of the Ottoman period in the nineteenth century, women’s organizing in Syria expanded during the period of nationalist activism against French mandate rule at the beginning of the twentieth century, and has benefited from the socialist policies of the ruling Ba‘th Party, especially during the latter part of the twentieth century.² In more recent years, it has been galvanized by grassroots efforts at the local...

  9. 4 The Iraqi Women’s Movement: Past and Contemporary Perspectives
    (pp. 93-110)
    Nadje Al-Ali

    Up to the invasion of Iraq in 2003, very little was known about the lives and struggles of ordinary Iraqi men and women. Iraq was Saddam Hussein. This was evident in both media discourses and presentations as well as in policy circles. In the immediate run-up to the invasion in 2003, some Iraqi women began to take center stage in the attempt to convince the public that a military invasion was the right thing to do. Liberating Iraqi women might not have been the first priority of American and British decision-makers, but was certainly one of the selling points in...

  10. 5 Women’s Rights Activism in Lebanon
    (pp. 111-132)
    Rita Stephan

    Lebanese women’s rights advocates were among the pioneers in raising awareness of women’s issues in the Arab world. Their movement’s unique features were shaped by two factors: Lebanon’s contentious religious and ethnic composition and an increased global mobilization for gender equality.

    Like other Arab countries, Lebanon has a neofeudalist, aristocratic economy that is embedded in patriarchal sociopolitical arrangements. However, somewhat different from the norms in most Arab states is Lebanon’s division of the political system into different modalities corresponding to the different confessions. The need for all sixteen confessions to share power and resources has made consensus-building a necessary measure...

  11. 6 Harvests of the Golden Decades: Contemporary Women’s Activism in Jordan
    (pp. 133-170)
    Ibtesam Al-Atiyat

    To many women activists in Jordan, the 1990s represent the golden decade for work on women’s issues. Those were the most critical ten years in terms of bringing women’s activism to the public scene and defining the course of their working agenda afterward. In this decade, the number of women’s organizations increased from only a few in the 1980s to over thirty-nine in the late 1990s. This decade also saw the emergence of a more daring discourse on women’s issues; one that is more ‘feminist-oriented’ and ‘right-based.’ Programs and actions undertaken by women’s organizations within this decade yielded successful results...

  12. 7 Discovering the Positive within the Negative: Palestinian Women’s Movements
    (pp. 171-196)
    Eileen Kuttab

    It is difficult to investigate the history of the Palestinian women’s movement without understanding its link to the overall Palestinian liberation movement from Israeli colonial occupation on the one hand, and the impact of colonialism on the everyday economic, political, cultural, and social life on the other. Moreover, it is not possible to address women’s social emancipation without understanding the nature of the hierarchical and patriarchal Palestinian society that has further deepened women’s vulnerability. It has loaded the women’s movement agenda with national as well as social issues, making the balance between national and social issues difficult to realize. All...

  13. 8 A Long, Quiet, and Steady Struggle: The Women’s Movement in Yemen
    (pp. 197-252)
    Amel Nejib al-Ashtal

    The Republic of Yemen has a unique and long-established women’s movement that is little known.¹ Compared to the several detailed accounts and insightful analyses that have appeared on women’s movements based in other parts of the Gulf and the Middle East, literature on the Yemeni women’s movement remains scarce and dispersed. In an effort to document and promote a better understanding of women’s organized activity in Yemen, this chapter aims to develop a historical overview of the women’s movement in Yemen (both North and South) from the late 1930s to the present. Space considerations limit the presentation of an in-depth...

  14. 9 Fashioning the Future: The Women’s Movement in Kuwait
    (pp. 253-280)
    Mary Ann Tétreault, Helen Rizzo and Doron Shultziner

    Pre-oil Kuwait harbored few spaces where women could move freely. Merchant-class women were confined to their large, multigenerational homes; working-class women could venture out to perform necessary tasks as servants of women with money. But when they went out for any reason, even to the market for food, to the supply boats for water, or to the beach to do the family laundry, all women had to wear encompassing black garments that covered their faces and bodies so that men who were not related to them could not see them (al-Mughni 2001, 45–46). Whether they were confined to their...

  15. 10 The ‘Makings’ of a Movement ‘by Implication’: Assessing the Expansion of Women’s Rights in the United Arab Emirates from 1971 until Today
    (pp. 281-302)
    Vânia Carvalho Pinto

    This chapter looks at the expansion of women’s rights in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) through the lenses of a movement ‘by implication.’ Departing from the ideational support leant by the Emirati state to the promotion of the policies of education, professional insertion, and political participation for females, it is argued that women felt encouraged to step into new roles, thus becoming examples to others. Their actions and the multiplier effects they generated have given rise to a movement that is here described as one that is ‘by implication.’ It is further argued that by taking this approach, it is...

  16. 11 North American Muslim Women’s Movements and the Politics of Islamic Feminine Hermeneutics
    (pp. 303-330)
    Hanadi Al-Samman

    Recent North American Muslim women’s movements articulate an urgent need to be part of the American and the universal, global discussion on Islamic human and political rights. Furthermore, they represent a timely and engaged response to what some Muslim religious scholars have dubbed as the “crisis of epistemology,” and the “crisis of religious leadership” (Sachedina 2009, 121–23, 131). This research will examine grass-roots North American Muslim women’s organizations and movements such as KARAMAH (Muslim Women Lawyers for Human Rights), the Peaceful Families Project, and Muslim Women’s Freedom Tour. It will further advance the notion that the printed, visual, and...

  17. Appendix: Women’s Movements in the Gulf Countries
    (pp. 331-380)
  18. Index
    (pp. 381-392)