Type of paper: Essay

Topic: Women, Middle East, Muslim, Spring, Arab Spring, Rice, Aliens, Politics

Pages: 5

Words: 1375

Published: 2021/02/17

The essay in the chapter titled, Nadia: “Mother of the Believers” authored by Baya Gacemi explains the challenges facing independent Algeria through the eyes of Nadia (Gacemi 366). It demonstrates the allocation of gender-based roles in times of internal warfare. Men play active roles such as serving as rebel soldiers while their female counterparts play subordinate roles such as feeding and accommodating. Under the Islamic faith, a young girl-child is taught not to bring shame into the house of her father. Similarly, a married woman is expected to obey her husband. A good illustration occurs when young Nadia is sent away from her village because she openly flirts with young Ahmed. Ahmed was reluctant to share his encounters in the group with Nadia because he knew that she loathed violence. Therefore, the essay implies that the Muslim religion treats women as subjects to their male counterparts; they should be seen, but not heard.
In present times, however, many women across the globe are seen to play forefront roles in the liberation of their people against oppressive regimes. The traditional mindset that women should play a ‘stand-back’ role as their male counterparts take up arms and advocate that the rights of individuals should be upheld is no longer the norm. These days, women actively take part in civilian and human rights movements and also take up arms to oust dictatorial regimes. A new opposition newspaper published in Benghazi reveals that the modern-day Libyan woman is not only a faithful Muslim and a good mother but also a soldier, a protester, a journalist, a volunteer, a citizen (Rice, Marsh, Finn, Sherwood, Chrisafis, and Booth n.p.).
Even though the civilian revolutions experienced in the Arab Peninsular did not begin as a gender-based issue, it rapidly escalated into a platform for the advocating of women’s rights, which aimed to define those rights from the viewpoint of the ‘West’ (Arshad n.p.). The proliferation of articles from a broad continuum of British, European and American reporters based on the role of women helped to create a roadmap for the success of the Arab Spring (Arshad n.p.). The Western populace closely followed the folding of events across the Middle East, with expectations for liberal restorations and new democracies as old authoritarian systems were protested against and toppled (Arshad n.p.). As it is common in the Western world, the success of democratic systems depends on how women are treated, their progression into politics, freedom with regards to media and social spaces, and the approaches used to defined and address women concerns.
Indeed, the Arab Spring signifies a critical turning point to the elevated contributions of women in public domains and their active role in the resultant protests marked the transition dynamics that were starting to emerge. During the revolutions, women were not fighting for their rights but rather played an equal part as their male counterparts in pushing for the general goal of attaining regime change and revolution. Nevertheless, the ousting of the old oppressive regimes indicated that there were demands to leave the old practices and introduce new ones. With these demands, many traditional patriarchal systems, which were the norm for many Arab societies, ended.
Women in countries such as Tunisia, Egypt, Libya and other parts of the Arab Peninsular realized that they had access to newer and broader audiences who interested in hearing their grievances firsthand from them. Tawakul Karman, for example, became a symbol of resilience during the Yemeni revolts because her role as a revolutionary mind attracted the attention of the media while her strong-willed character strengthened that position (Arshad n.p.). Regardless of the fact that the Arab Spring upheavals were instigated by a gender-based struggle for freedom, the focus on women’s roles in the Arab world was intensified.
With regards to the debate about the contributions of women during the Arab Spring insurgencies, many researchers, politicians, observers and most importantly participants point out that the Arab Spring has been a point of transition for women in the Arab world. Through the opposition of the old patriarchal systems of rule, women have managed drastically to reshape the nature of discussions regarding their welfare. They are no longer just the subject of discussion but also part of the decision process. Yet, their contributions during the revolution, and at present in the establishment of new, post-revolution regimes, requires some more attention since they encounter several difficulties in the public domain.
Through such methods like hunger strikes, protests, mobilization, and blogging, women have taken a forefront position in the struggle for civil liberalization (Rice et al. n.p.). However, it remains to be observed whether their rights will be exercised. Women who participated in the Arab Spring can declare to have done everything humanly possible during the period of turmoil that destabilized the region. Some of the most appealing happenings of the uproar have been of women reacting angrily, passionately, and acting with strong determination to call for change of the repressive regimes in the capitals of Arab countries like Egypt, Tunisia, and Libya. Furthermore, women were seen to deliver revolutionary speeches even to the people, something that had for long been assumed to be the role of men.
Even as the dust of the Arab Spring began to settle in the affected regions, one thing is quite obvious; for all their effort and sacrifice, Arab women have a long way to go before they can enjoy equal rights as their male counterparts. These women may have played an integral part during the Arab spring. However, it remains to be observed whether the Arab spring will in turn sustain women. A lot of women across the Arab region mysteriously disappeared or were detained as an outcome of the revolutions (Rice et al. n.p.). A number of Bahraini women, for instance, were locked up by the authorities, comprising at least four nurses and nine doctors (Rice et al. n.p.). In Yemen, Karman was put under police custody for about two days, causing widespread outrage over the lack of "shame" by male soldiers arresting a woman in the darkness of the night. In Syria, the opposite applied; women fled at the sight of the violence. On March 16, a peaceful demonstration organized by the families of political prisoners in Damascus, Syria had resulted in the beatings of many, including women and children and arrest of some people (Rice et al. n.p.).
A feminist lobby group in Tunisia said that the real struggle is just beginning, post-revolution (Rice et al. n.p.). Two-thirds of the country's well-educated and unemployed youthful population whose grievances triggered the uprising are women (Rice et al. n.p.). There exists gross inequality in terms of pay and in inheritance laws, which favor male children. However, the first struggle involves increasing the participation of women in politics. In this regards, the commission tasked with reforming Tunisia's electoral institutions for the July elections decided that there must be 50 percent equality between men and women for all electoral positions in the country (Rice et al. n.p.). In addition, the women had to alternate with male candidates from the top cadre positions and take part in the most important roles.
In the same line, some male leaders have also embraced the yearning for change. In Libya, Mohamed Sowan boasted that his Justice and Development Party, which was associated with the Muslim Brotherhood wing, had the second-largest number of female candidates vying for the Parliamentary seats and looked forward to seeing their increased participation in the political scene (Giacomo n.p.). In Tunisia, Rachid al-Ghannouchi, the elite behind the formation of Ennahda, the liberal Islamist party that emerged victorious in the first free general election conducted in 2011, stated that he anticipated more female candidacy in his party during the next election (Giacomo n.p.). In Tunisia, which is the most liberal of the countries in the Arab Peninsular, women garnered 49 out of the 217 Constituent Assembly seats vied for in last year’s election. The vast majority of these women came from Ennahda. In Libya, 33 out of 200 parliamentary seats available are held by women (Giacomo n.p.).
All in all, men continue to overwhelmingly dominate the political arena in the Arab Spring countries. Nonetheless, women, empowered by improved in literacy levels, higher education, and political assertiveness are becoming more involved in the struggle for civil liberalization over time (Giacomo n.p.). In Arab countries such as Tunisia, Libya, Egypt, Syria, and Yemen, they continue to take part in revolutionary actions from the front lines. These nations will not realize their full development potential unless they have completely integrated women into all important aspects of their lives.

Works Cited

Arshad, Shazia. "The Arab Spring: What did it do for Women?" Middle East Monitor 25 Mar. 2013: n. pag. Web. 13 Apr. 2015. <https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/articles/middle-east/5584-the-arab-spring-what-did-it-do-for-women>.
Gacemi, Baya. "Nadia: ‘Mother of the Believers’." Struggle and Survival in the Modern Middle East. Ed. Edmund Burke, III and David N. Yaghoubian. Berkeley: University of California Press, 2006. 366-385. Print.
Giacomo, Carol. "Women Fight to Define the Arab Spring." International New York Times 10 Nov. 2012: n. pag. Web. 13 Apr. 2015. <http://www.nytimes.com/2012/11/11/opinion/sunday/women-fight-to-define-the-arab-spring.html?_r=0>.
Rice, Xan, Katherine Marsh, Tom Finn, Harriet Sherwood, Angelique Chrisafis, and Robert Booth. "Women have emerged as Key Players in the Arab Spring." The Guardian 22 Apr. 2011: n. pag. Web. 13 Apr. 2015. <http://www.theguardian.com/world/2011/apr/22/women-arab-spring>.

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