Women Activists in the Arab Awakenings and Beyond: Dilemmas and Opportunities

No. 14 – September 2013
Author: Alessia Belli
Language: English
 Arab Spring
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The paper focuses on women’s activists in Tunisia and Egypt during the so-called ‘Arab Springs’ and in their aftermath. Scholarly and political debates have often overlooked the role of women’s groups and networks in these political transformations: on the contrary, this contribution takes gender as a fundamental lens capable of generating and aggregating original knowledge and of offering new insights to design and implement creative strategies for both research and policymaking. Endorsing a bottom-up strategy by giving voice to ‘minorities within minorities’ is an important step to support and strengthen democratization processes, especially in view of solving new forms of conflict that may arise in the area. In this sense, specific attention will be given to religious identity as a factor for political conflict. European worries about the Islamisation of politics and the future of democracy in North Africa will be interpreted through the perspectives and experiences of Egyptian and Tunisian secular and religious women who participated in the uprisings. Moreover, these processes of socio-political mobilization will be read in a comparative way by linking them to similar dynamics underway in the majority of European countries (with a focus on Italy and the UK). Here, in fact, Muslim women activists are increasingly visible in the public and political sphere and are at the forefront in the battle for equality and justice both nationally and transnationally. Women’s experiences and perspectives, in other words, seem particularly enlightening in offering new insights for the renewal of democratic theories and praxis in a Euro-Mediterranean dimension.