MENA: Women's Rights Movements in the 'Arab Spring': Major Victories for Human Rights, or Symbolic Accommodations to Strengthen Regime Change Movements?

Tuesday, October 9, 2012
Hayat Alvi, Ph.D., U.S. Naval War College
Western Asia

American journalist Lara Logan explained on camera how she endured a sexual assault in Cairo's Tahrir Square, but countless Egyptian women never have the chance to discuss their attacks. Libya's Muammar Qaddafi's security services tried to silence Eman El Obeidy, who claimed that she was gang raped by pro‐Qaddafi forces, and her vocal claims and the harsh response of the security services were all caught on camera in the Tripoli hotel where foreign journalists camped out. Women have been in the frontlines of assisting the rebels in Libya, and protesting side‐by‐side with male counterparts in Syria, Bahrain, Tunisia, Egypt, Yemen, Algeria, and also in Iran. With the “Arab Spring” uprisings and revolutions, the issue of women's empowerment and rights has emerged as a parallel movement in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA). What are the implications of the women's empowerment movements in the MENA for improved political representation and rights, especially with major elections about to take place? What has been the impact of the role of women in the Arab Spring on improving women's security? Do these developments contribute to long‐term socio‐political, legal, judicial, and economic reforms that would improve overall human rights, and especially women's rights in the MENA? This paper is a comparative survey of women's empowerment and rights, especially in terms of general human rights principles, as well as in terms of political representation in postrevolution Tunisia, Egypt, and Libya.

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Arab Spring_ Major Rights or???