Friday, May 22, 2009

Arab Women in Politics: a Quite Revolution

Ten years exactly after they got the right to vote, four Kuwaiti ladies win parliamentary seats. Despite the well-spread clichés, the last elections in Kuwait confirm a trend already noticed for instance in Jordan when a lady won in November 2007, for the first time in the country’s history, a parliamentary seat.

In Arab modern history, women’s affirmation traces back to the end of the XIXth century, a political affirmation followed a few decades later by well-known political activists like the Egyptian Hoda Shaarawi or the Syrian Nadhira Zayn al-Din.

Independence has been, in many countries, the golden age for Arab women as their participation to the political life has constantly declined since, partly because this participation has been dictated by regimes which have lost any credibility to people looking for solutions from a Islamic dictated agenda.

But the trend toward the progressive vanishing of women’s participation in Arab politics could reverse as political “modernization” has became a “necessity” in the post 9-11 world, and with a ever-growing number of young educated women aiming at more individual identity and way of life.

In the Gulf states, often caricatured for its backwardness especially regarding women’s lib issues, some positive changes have already taken place as mentioned in a previous post about Saudi Arabia. After sheikha bint Nasser al-Missned, Qatar’s first lady, was named on 2008 Forbes magazine's list of the world's 100 most powerful women in the world, it was Nura Al-Faiz’s turn to appear in Time Magazine’s list of 100 most influential people in the world, after she had been appointed Saudi Arabia`s first woman minister.

As usual, here is the link to the more developed post in French.

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