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QUICKTAKE: Syria Extremists Restricting Women’s Rights

In Syria’s now nearly three-year-old conflict, certain armed extremist opposition groups are imposing strict and discriminatory rules on women and girls that have no basis in Syrian law, Human Rights Watch says in a new study. The findings have been drawn from interviews with 43 refugees from Syria in Iraqi Kurdistan and two in Turkey, More »

INSIGHT: Egyptian Women – Between Reports and Reality

I was not surprised by the contents of a report published recently by the Thomson Reuters Foundation on the status of women’s rights in the Arab world. Reactions to the report among Egyptians, however, were interesting, ranging from support to opposition to complete dismissal. Egypt was found to be the worst state for Arab More »

INSIGHT: Why the Narrative You’ve Heard About Syria Is Wrong

In the Za’atri refugee camp in Jordan, Syrian women are afraid to go to the restrooms at night, using the desert-like conditions around their homes rather than risk sexual assault. In neighboring Lebanon, since August, numerous Syrians have been turned back from the border, forcing them to return to dangerous conditions where their lives are More »

INSIGHT: Saudi Women Jump-start Driving Rights Campaign

On October 26, Saudi women are expected to answer their sisters’ call to support women’s driving rights by driving cars in the kingdom – an act that can lead to detention, a fine, and in the worst case scenario, imprisonment. The campaign has garnered significant support on the internet, with an online petition attracting More »

INSIGHT: Quotas and Women in Egyptian Politics

Last week, Egypt’s Constituent Assembly, charged with amending the country’s constitution, announced that 25 percent of municipal seats will be reserved for women. There is no word yet on when municipal elections will be held, or if a similar quota will be established for parliament, but the move is a positive step toward improving More »

VOICES: Women’s Rights in Egypt – Re-examining a Revolution

In the past two years much has been said about how Egypt’s popular uprising has affected women. All too often Egyptian women have been portrayed in absolute terms, as victims of a revolution that is in itself still a fluid work in progress. But as the one-year anniversary of Mohamed Morsi’s ascent to the More »

INSIGHT: Women and Sports in Saudi Arabia

Last summer, I wrote about two young women from Saudi Arabia, Wojdan Shaherkani and Sarah Attar, who were the first Saudi women ever to compete in the Olympics. They had to endure criticism from conservatives at home and lots of discussion about what they would wear to compete, but they served as a powerful More »

INSIGHT: Women in the Workforce in the Arab World

A great debate has been raging over whether the so-called Arab Spring has been good or bad for the women of the region. Some argue that the rise of Islamist governments in places like Egypt and Tunisia has led to a stark reversal of women’s rights. Others believe that the vibrant social and political More »

VOICES: Egyptian ‘Superhero’ Fights Sexual Harassment

Dressed in floral print clothing, he needs cinnamon chewing-gum to fight against his foes and a long rest after his encounters – it’s Super Makh! Reappearing this year in the Egyptian comic publication Tok-Tok, Super Makh is the Egyptian version of Superman in a popular cartoon where his main mission is to the help More »

INSIGHT: Women’s Security in the Middle East and North Africa

“It is time for an uprising of women in the Arab world,” writes Hanin Ghaddar, managing editor of NOW News in Lebanon in the second annual publication to mark International Women’s Day by the Woodrow Wilson Center’s Middle East Program. Last year, Haleh Esfandiari, the program’s director, asked a diverse group of women from business, More »

VOICES: The Politics of Egypt’s Rape, Sexual Assault Epidemic

In a powerful scene from the 2010 Egyptian film “678,” a veiled woman boards a crowded public bus on her way to work, squeezing through a mass of passengers in search of a space where she will feel least vulnerable to attack. Inevitably, though, groping hands reach her and she has no choice but More »

QUICKTAKE: Police Impunity, Sexual Assaults Rampant in Egypt Protests

The recent second anniversary of the Egyptian revolution that toppled strongman Hosni Mubarak was marred by renewed violence between protesters and security forces of the country’s new government under President Mohamed Morsi. Disillusioned with the direction taken by Egypt’s new Islamist leader, activists took to the streets again reportedly only to see a replay More »

INSIGHT: Women of the Arab Spring, Beyond Objects and Subjects

The Arab Spring introduced us to the strength and determination of the many Arab women who took to the streets and the Internet to call for change in their governments and societies. Gone were the stereotypes of oppression and passivity. In their place were voices and faces of hope, courage and indomitable spirit, calling More »

INSIGHT: Women in Politics in Saudi Arabia

Just days ago, Saudi Arabia’s King Abdullah made history when he named thirty women to the kingdom’s Shura Council, an appointed advisory body that cannot enact legislation but is still the closest institution to a parliament in that country. He also amended the Shura Council’s law to ensure that women would make up no less than More »

INSIGHT: Small Step Forward for Saudi Women

Saudi King Abdullah is poised to appoint* women for the first time as members of the country’s Majlis al-Shura (Consultative Council). The move is symbolically important, but the assembly itself lacks real power. The king first announced his intention to appoint women to the Majlis al-Shura over a year ago, and, since that time, newspaper reports More »

VOICES: A Bleak Future for Yemen’s Women Leaders

The participation of Yemeni women in the country’s uprising fascinated the world early last year. Yet the uprising also represented simultaneous opportunity and danger for women, especially female opinion leaders. An opportunity because women had the chance to be empowered. For instance, their parliamentary participation quota is under consideration to be increased from 15 to More »

INSIGHT: With Egypt in Crisis, US Must Act for Human Rights

Nearly two years after the resignation of President Hosni Mubarak, here we are once again with protesters back in the Egyptian streets, facing army tanks and tear gas, and this time with human rights defenders openly expressing concerns about the possibility of civil war. There’s only one way out of this: Egypt has to build More »

Women Rising with Frances Alonzo: Careers

Today we’ll look at the unique employment challenges for young women in the Middle East and what is being done to grow private sector jobs for them.  We’ll also talk to women from Ramallah and Kuwait who are using a time-honored solution of entrepreneurship to empower women toward financial independence – Joining me to More »

VOICES: Opening the Closed Door – Addressing Domestic Violence in Egypt [Video]

In Egypt, domestic abuse is not a crime. When a woman is beaten by her husband, the authorities are seldom called. Hospital trauma centers see the extreme cases of internal bleeding and broken bones. Otherwise, it’s only when marital violence shifts into child abuse that many women seek out help. According to a 2007 study More »

INSIGHT: Toward a Democratic Constitution for Post-revolution Egypt

Egyptians from all walks of life and all corners of the nation rose up in the January 25, 2011, revolution to reclaim their freedom and the civil, political, economic, social, and cultural rights stolen from them for 30 years under Mubarak’s 1981 emergency law. Despite the wealth of the legislative system, Mubarak’s regime failed More »