The Political Participation of Women in the Arab World: Mapping the Movement, Experiences and Challenges Facing Arab Women from the Beginning of the Twentieth Century Until the Post-Arab Uprisings Era: Expectations, Paths and Outcomes

  • Fatima Moussawi
  • Samira Koujok


The political and social status of women in the Arab world has gone through major changes since the beginning of the last century until this day and has witnessed turning points that brought advancements to women’s efforts in some occasions but also ridiculed their efforts and curtailed their struggles in others. These changes occurred in the turbulent context of the Arab region where foreign colonization, civil wars, coups d’état, social renaissances and international social influences took place. The political status of Arab women is particularly worth studying following the most recent landmark events of the Arab uprisings, when several Arab states witnessed intense political alterations that raised the expectations of Women and Human Rights’ activists before the emergence of pushback forces from regimes and their security apparatuses. Women played an essential role in the eruption of these revolutions but, despite noted important gains, endured the consequences of patriarchal norms and values, regime crackdown and violence, and gender discrimination post-uprisings. Women, expecting to occupy a larger space in the political, social and economic fields, had to reestablish their roles to adapt to the new circumstances. This chapter presents an attempt to examine the path taken by women’s groups and movements in the context of the changes that occurred in the political fields and sheds light on the political participation of Arab women in different periods of the last century. It also records the advancements and the challenges women faced in the political domain and explores the effect of women-led movements on guiding their lives and countries to change. From their journey to assert equal rights to direct active involvement in the Arab uprisings, this chapter seeks to outline the history of women’s agency and struggles in the Arab world.


Women’s movements Political participation Islamic feminism Arab uprisings Arab world 


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© The Author(s) 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Fatima Moussawi
    • 1
  • Samira Koujok
    • 1
  1. 1.American University of BeirutBeirutLebanon

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