By Theyab M. Al Darmaki
Women’s rights are relatively broad and contentious, and are heavily politicized throughout states. This contention is more pronounced within the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) due to the emphasis on religion and culture. However, understanding the region’s debates over women’s rights as purely cultural and religious ignores many nuances. The MENA is a vast region and treating it as a single body ignores the notion that Islam is interpreted in varying ways and is not a monolith. As a result, my paper will tackle Egypt and Tunisia as case studies to cross-examine developments in women’s rights across the region. Moreover, the research question delves into how and why women’s rights developed varyingly in Tunisia and Egypt whilst under similar political Islamist rule. The purpose of this paper is to understand and analyze the circumstances that led to the contrasting development of women’s rights in Tunisia and Egypt under Islamist rule.
Women’s rights in post-conflict societies highlight an important reality, one where women’s political engagement and consequently their social and legal status, changes rapidly. This change threatens established social structures where traditional spheres of influence, public versus private spheres, are challenged during times of crisis (Campbell, 2005). This challenge is often found during revolutions or political crises where all members of society are mobilized, including women. Therefore, women’s participation in revolutions is needed to ensure the success and achievement of socio-political goals of the revolution. However, the trend recognized in most post-conflict societies is the re-marginalization of women after the revolution’s success as politics once again becomes dominated by men who call for women to reassume their domestic roles (Campbell, 2005). Understanding women’s socio-political roles during and after the conflict helps explain why women’s rights developed distinctly despite overlapping circumstances making post-conflict society the main concept in this paper.
There is an extensive body of literature on women’s rights in the Middle East and they span a wide array of subjects from feminist organizations to social movements. One of the fundamental changes to women’s status within society came through the concept of state feminism. White (2003) defines state feminism as a male-dominated state that made women’s emancipation part of its public policy. However, Hatem (1992) argues that state feminism functions within a conservative framework of top-down strategy that fails to address the underrepresentation of women and gender equality (Hatem, 1992). Charrad and Zarrugh (2014) underscore the importance of civil society groups in advancing women’s rights, highlighting that bottom-up collective action counters the failures of top-down state feminism.
Brandt et al. (1995) touch on women’s rights in Tunisia, Egypt, and Bangladesh with regard to Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW) and the role of religious movements in forming reservations (Brandt & Kaplan, 1995). The role of religion in Egyptian society was studied by Al‐Anani and Malik (2013), and they argued that Salafist movements in the 1970s dominated the religious sphere in Egypt (Al-Anani & Malik, 2013). Relevant to this paper, research done on the Arab Spring within a gendered framework has been produced since the beginning of the revolutions in 2011. One of the most extensive works on the Arab Spring and women’s rights is Empowering Women After The Arab Spring (Shalaby & Moghadam, 2016). Shalaby and Moghadam’s (2016) book discusses the challenges facing women in Tunisia and Egypt. Similarly, Moghadam (2018) examined the divergent outcomes of the Arab Spring in terms of gender and women’s mobilization. Moghadam (2018) identifies that women’s legal status, social positions, and collective action prior to the Arab Spring have contributed to shaping mass protests and influenced political and social outcomes (Moghadam, 2018). The beginnings of the Arab Spring were covered by Muhammed Özekin and Hasan Akkaş (2014), who identified economic stagnation and limited civil rights as the main drivers of the revolution (Ozekin & Azakin, 2014).
Focused research on Egypt has been conducted by Moghadam (2013) in which she examined the democratization process during the Arab Spring, both its successes and implications on women. (Moghadam, 2013). Rogowska (2018) addresses the gains and losses of overthrowing the Mubarak regime and the implication it had on Egyptian women under the Muslim Brotherhood and El Sisi’s military government (Rogowska, 2018). In Tunisia, the Jasmine Revolution was studied by Saidin (2018), who traced the developments of the Revolution and examined its causes (Saidin, 2018). Hamza (2016) traces the democratic transition in Tunisia and the challenges women face under Al Nahda party, reflecting on the long history of state feminism in Tunisia since 1956 (Hamza, 2016).
This paper uses a comparative case-study methodology in which similar factors lead to different outcomes. Case-study is described by Thomas (2011) as an analysis of individuals, events, institutions, or organizations among other things, that are studied using several methods (Thomas, 2011). In his article, Thomas (2011) breaks down the methodology into (A) case — the subject in question that provides the analytical framework and (B) object —the analytical framework which is exemplified by the case (Thomas, 2011).
The second methodology is historic-comparative. Historic-comparative methodology in social sciences is often applied as an analysis but can be utilized as a methodology on its own. Skocpol (2015) describes the methodology as a tool to understand a number of historic phenomena with limited cases (Skocpol, 2015). Skocpol (2015) further elaborates that historic-comparative methodology is an expansion on multilevel analyses where many variables exist but limits cases. The methodology can be applied in two ways, the first is to examine the case and look at the causal factors, thereby establishing a valid association that exists between the two cases. The second approach is to contrast a case with a set of factors with another case where those factors are absent (Skocpol, 2015).
This research will employ two methods, content analysis and multilevel analysis, which are necessary for analyzing qualitative sources. Content analysis for this research included sourcing constitutions of Egypt and Tunisia and analyzing the discourse of provisions. The provisions were compared with pre-Arab Spring constitutions to underscore the gains or losses with respect to women’s rights. This paper will use a combination of primary and secondary sources as the discussion of women’s rights in Egypt and Tunisia requires a qualitative approach that focuses on secondary data. Primary data will be used in the last section of this paper when examining the constitutions of post-revolution Tunisia and Egypt and statements by the Muslim Brotherhood.
Historical context provides the necessary background on socio-political realties in Egypt and Tunisia, which heavily impacted the future development of women’s rights in both countries. Arab Nationalism and the rise of Salafist movements, as well as the rise of political Islamist groups, reveal the inconsistent development of women’s rights. This section will briefly introduce socio-political developments in the mid to late 90s, which drastically changed societies in Tunisia and Egypt. These developments can be conceptualized as critical junctures, a point in history that impacted future policymaking. Moreover, this section will employ a multilevel analysis which can be seen in the top-down state-feminist approach in Tunisia and the bottom-up Salafist movement in Egypt. The critical juncture lies between the two opposing approaches/movements where in Tunisia the change came at the state level compared to the grassroots Islamist Salafist movement in Egypt that laid the foundations for the Muslim Brotherhood’s to rise to power.
Based on similarities between the two countries in terms of Islamist resistance and state feminism, it makes sense to compare and contrast the two countries which not only share similar colonial and religious struggles but have also undergone revolutions with similar demands in 2011. However, the divergent outcomes of the revolutions beg the question of why and how women’s rights developed distinctly under Islamist rule. The historical context will provide the necessary information to answer this question.
Tunisia’s history with regard to women’s rights can be traced back to 1956 with the major state-led reforms under President Bourguiba (Hamza, 2016). This period can be understood as state feminism which is when women’s movements and organizations secure state policies to improve the social status of women (Kantola & Squires, 2012). State feminism is not novel to the region during the Bourguiba period. In 1921, Turkey enacted the first state feminist agenda in the Middle East where the government gave women numerous rights which were non-existent under Ottoman law (White, 2003). The first state-led reform effort in Tunisia was the Personal Status Code of 1956, which gave women equal rights, banned polygamy, gave women the right to divorce, and gave women greater autonomy, all of which improved women’s status in Tunisia (Hamza, 2016). These legal amendments mark a shift away from Islamic jurisprudence to a more Western-centric legal framework.
Despite these progressive improvements to the legal system, it is clear that these changes are top-down. This pattern of top-down reform persisted under the successor government of Ben Ali, which led to the second wave of major reform in Tunisia in 1993. The reform allowed mothers to become a source of jus sanguinis — the ability to pass citizenship based on blood relation (Sinha, 2011). Jus sanguinis is a vital amendment to the legal framework as the concept of citizen production is a gendered-raced concept (Hawkesworth, 2012). What this concept entails is creating and preserving the nation-state from “impure contamination” by restricting women’s legal ability to pass down citizenship, therefore the state restricts marriage across religious, ethnic, or racial lines. Preventing women from marrying a foreign man ensures the nation-state identity is pure and it also confines women to their reproductive duties, which is producing pure bloodlines of future citizens (Hawkesworth, 2012). From a gendered perspective, we find how citizenship laws are more than a legal status and with Tunisia revoking the kin-based social formations, it effectively improved women’s status (Sinha, 2011). Such improvements achieved by Tunisia can be deduced through the literacy rate of women which was 62% in 1984 and in 2014 reached 95% (World Bank, n.d.). Contrastingly, Morocco’s women’s literacy rate in 1982 was 17% and increased to 53% in 2014 (World Bank, n.d.). These changes in the laws highlight the success of state feminism in Tunisia.
In Egypt, state feminism was enacted under President Jamal Abdel Nasser who took power after the 1952 Egyptian Revolution. Given that the Revolution was socialist in nature, it was driven by social justice issues within the economic, political, and social sphere and as such, gender equality became a core element of the Nasser government (Hatem, 1992). Nasser’s state feminism was enshrined in the 1956 Constitution, which gave women equal rights under the constitution and banned gender-based discrimination. Furthermore, it gave women reproductive rights, which included the prohibition of terminating labor contracts due to maternity leaves (Hatem, 1992). Despite this revolutionary progress, the Egyptian government sustained some conservative laws, including the personal status law from the 1920s which described women as dependents on men and emotionally unstable. thereby implying that they cannot be trusted with divorce (Hatem, 1992). Therefore, Hatem (1992) argues that women became independent of the family, to an extent, but dependent on the State for employment and other social services (Hatem, 1992). Furthermore, Hatem (1992) states that state feminism’s progress was not entirely progressive as it failed to challenge institutionalized patriarchy represented in the Personal Status Law of the 1920s (Hatem, 1992). Consequently, state feminism under Nasser made some commendable progress toward women’s rights, but failed to challenge institutional patriarchy which would impact women’s rights in Egypt in the long run.
Another important historic juncture focuses on the Islamist Salafist movement in Egypt, which gained traction in the 1970s (Al‐Anani & Malik, 2013). The roots of the Salafiyya movement can be traced back to the 19th-20th century which embraced a modern and intellectual approach. However, the Salafist movement in the 1970s developed a rather fundamentalist-Wahabist ideology (Al‐Anani & Malik, 2013). The Salafists in Egypt spread their ideology through university talks, religious sermons in mosques, and publishing books but more importantly, the use of satellite television networks to spread their ideology (Al‐Anani & Malik, 2013). Al‐Anani and Malik (2013) note that the Salafist movement has changed the “religious sphere” in Egypt, making it fundamentalist and “less progressive” (Al‐Anani & Malik, 2013). The observation made by Al‐Anani and Malik (2013) exposes the foundations which have discouraged women’s rights policies to develop not only at the grassroot level, but also at the state level.
Egypt has long supported women’s rights at the state level. For instance, the legal reforms to family laws and personal status laws were initiated by President Anwar El-Sadat (Brandt and Kaplan, 1995). Some of these laws include banning veiling (both the hijab and niqab) in schools and requiring a written permit by parents. However, many of these laws were blocked by the Supreme Court which reflects resistance at two levels, the institutional and societal levels (Brandt and Kaplan, 1995). The Salafist movement has engulfed the Egyptian religious sphere to a point where their fundamentalist ideologies have shifted public opinion and also the views of institutional machinery like the Supreme Court. Therefore, Salafism challenged state feminism in Egypt, however, what reinforced the Salafist Movement was the economic liberalization in Egypt.
The economic liberalization in the 1970s led to several challenges within Egypt. The challenges are represented by the retraction of state-owned enterprises, the rise of Islamist entrepreneurs linked with the Salafist Movement, and the eventual demise of state feminism. Under Nasser’s presidency, women joined the labor force in large numbers but most of them joined state-owned enterprises. With the shift to a free economy, the State, which was the main source of employment for women, was reduced (Hatem, 1992). Because of the retraction of state-owned enterprises, women lost their jobs, and the new private sector and entrepreneurs did not make women’s rights a priority (Hatem, 1992). Furthermore, the economic challenges at the time offered Islamist groups opportunities to provide economic solutions within strict Islamic jurisprudence (Hatem, 1992). This further catalyzed the Salafist Movement but more importantly, led to the demise of state feminism.
These historical developments in both countries highlight shared features like state feminism, Islamist resistance, and the rise of Islamist political parties. Despite these overlapping features, the results of these developments resulted in different outcomes as seen in Figure 1. The Figure shows the shared features but also highlights how Egypt lost state feminism around the 1970s and revived it in 2014. In contrast, Tunisia sustained state feminism despite conflicts. These differences are most profound with the rise of the Arab Spring, which represented a major socio-political movement where women took the center stage and played an influential role in overthrowing authoritarian governments. Therefore, a critical analysis of the Arab Spring and its implications is needed to understand the effects of historic junctures on subsequent policies pertaining to women’s rights.
The Arab Spring
The Arab world struggled with the 2008 Financial Crisis, rampant unemployment, and dissatisfied youth who had no job prospects. Problems related to corruption, increasing social inequalities, and limited civil rights continued to grow leading to massive dissatisfaction with Arab governments (Ozekin and Akkas, 2014). However, the tragic suicide of Mohamed Bouazizi is what triggered the Jasmine Revolution in Tunisia and later spread across the Arab world (Saidin, 2018). Bouazizi’s death signified a rather painful representation of what brutal political repression, underdeveloped rule of law, and limited civil rights, can lead to public disapproval of long-standing regimes that took over Egypt, Libya, Yemen, Syria, and other Arab countries. Despite these uprisings, the outcomes of the revolutions varied, as some succeeded and others were plunged into civil wars, not to mention, many Islamist groups took over, which occurred in Tunisia and Egypt. In both countries, women participated actively in leading the revolution and Islamist parties also rose in popularity — Al Nahda in Tunisia and Muslim Brotherhood and Al Nour in Egypt.
Women in the Revolution
After the fall of the Zain Bin Ali regime in Tunisia, we saw the rise of a previously repressed Islamist group come to power, Al Nahda. Islamist groups and movements were brutally repressed throughout Tunisian history, especially Al Nahda which formed a political opposition to the authoritarian modernist governments under Bourguiba and Ben Ali (Brandt and Kaplan, 1995). The Arab Spring witnessed massive turnout of women of all statuses, Muslims and non-Muslims, conservative and liberal, literate and illiterate, which threatened the patriarchal structures in the Middle East and redefined social justice to include women’s rights (Shalaby and Moghadam, 2016). Tunisian women were one of the driving forces in the success of the Jasmine Revolution. Women’s presence in unions, associations, political parties, and demonstrations highlight not only the mobilizing power but an important factor in the protection and progression of women’s rights in post-revolution Tunisia. Despite the high turnout of women, the rise of Al Nahda party marked a threat to the established state-feminist structures.
The previously banned political Islamist party, Al Nahda, had risen to power which raised concerns regarding women’s legal rights in Tunisia. Although Al Nahda expressed their willingness to protect women’s rights, the language in the Tunisian constitution draft led to massive disapproval by civil society groups and women in secular parties. The constitution was developed with the help of civil society groups like the Tunisian Association of Democratic Women (ATFD) (United Nations, 2014). Furthermore, the parliamentary system in Tunisia meant that Al Nahda had to work with Nidaa Tounes, a secularist party. Both factors contributed to the progressive constitution. There is a particular word used by Al Nahda which led to disapproval, the term was “complementary to men” rather than equal to men (Shalaby and Moghadam, 2016). Shalaby and Moghadam (2016) argue that such discourse reflects the threat of Islamist movements on women’s rights, particularly in post-conflict societies. Therefore, having institutional opposition through secular parties and grassroot opposition, the marginalization of women post-conflict is less likely to occur. Hence, Islamist fundamentalism at the state-level was countered with a robust organized civil society network at the grassroot level and secularist opposition at the state-level.
The presence of civil society and other grassroot organizations is what secured and even progressed women’s rights in the transition process in Tunisia. The new constitution enshrined new rights that expanded on the old constitution to include provisions to end violence against women, increase women’s political representation at all levels, and equal rights in all social and legal spheres (Shalaby and Moghadam, 2016). Based on these developments, it can be argued that the historic junctures discussed earlier, have influenced policymaking in Tunisia, which is evident in the established feminist NGOs, strong state-feminist agenda, and the legal codes created post-colonialism, which have ensured the protection and progression of women’s rights in Tunisia.
Contrastingly, Egypt’s transition was a setback to women’s rights. Despite the large turnout of women in Tahrir Square, the state response under Hosni Mubarak’s regime was brutal, especially towards women. Mubarak’s regime used sexual violence as a form of deterrence to discourage women from participating in anti-government protests and those arrested were subjected to virginity tests (Moghadam, 2018). After the fall of Mubarak’s regime, the Muslim Brotherhood and Al Nour party came to power thanks to the Salafist movement in the 1970s. Al‐Anani and Malik (2013) argue that the strong influence of the Salafist Movement popularized support of the Muslim Brotherhood, which led to their rise in power in 2012 (Al-Anani & Malik, 2013). The Egyptian elections in 2011 were dominated by Islamist parties with a small secular minority in Parliament (Moghadam, 2013). The election results have led to a regression of women’s legal rights as the new constitution was written with strong Salafist rhetoric and provided women with very few rights that were formulated broadly. The Egyptian constitution of 2013 only mentioned women four times and neither had a political commitment to improve women’s political representation nor social or legal rights (Egyptian Constitution, repealed 2013). Furthermore, women were already underrepresented prior to the Arab Spring and the women who won parliamentary seats post-Arab Spring worked to repeal the limited and fragile rights Egyptian women possessed (Moghadam, 2013). As Egypt seemed to slip back into the grip of Islamist authoritarianism, a second revolution took place.
Mohammed Morsi who was President of Egypt and a member of the Muslim Brotherhood had attempted to consolidate power and his failed campaign promises have led to the second wave of protests since the fall of Mubarak’s regime. Not surprising, women were part of the protests despite the many threats they faced and supported General Abdel Fattah El Sisi’s suspension of the constitution and takeover of the government (Rogowska, 2018). Despite the short-lived rule of the Muslim Brotherhood, it resulted in a deep regression of women’s rights. But shockingly, the military that came to rescue Egypt from the grips of Salafist ideology, was responsible for sexual violence against women (Rogowska, 2018). However, the newly formed constitution addressed a number of legal issues, which include citizenship, gender equality, economic and political rights, providing explicit and clear language regarding the rights accorded to women (Rogowska, 2018). Although the newly drafted constitution under El Sisi’s rule had reconciled some issues regarding women’s legal status, it remains unclear to what extent women’s political representation is protected.
Therefore, Egypt’s brief democratic process led to authoritarian Salafist parties dominating the political landscape in Egypt, and the second wave of “liberation” post-Muslim Brotherhood had only put the military back into power. Unlike Tunisia, civil society groups and NGOs played no role in the drafting process of the constitutions. Furthermore, Egypt failed to consult grassroots independent civil society groups most of which were linked to Mubarak’s regime or were made up of Middle Class educated women who failed to form any solidarity with the general public (Shalaby & Moghadam, 2016). Despite the revival of state feminism under El Sisi’s presidency, the lack of strong oppositional parties in government, and a weak civil society network, state feminism failed. Egypt fits the post-conflict model discussed earlier where women’s participation is needed during times of crisis but once the government is formed, women’s rights seem to become marginalized once again. This is substantiated by the fact that El-Sisi’s government marks the return of state-military despite the efforts of the Egyptian government to rebrand it as a civil government. As such, under an authoritarian presidential government, opposition groups and civil society are less likely to form strong networks and can only function within state interests (Charrad & Zarrugh, 2014). Comparing the constitution of Tunisia with the constitution of Egypt will provide an informed understanding of the future of women’s rights in these two countries.
Constitutional Gains and Setbacks
As discussed in the previous section, the Arab Spring has produced varying results, which are rooted in historic junctures and affected by civil society. In examining the constitutions created post-Arab Spring, we can gauge the progress or regress of women’s rights in post-revolution countries. As a result, a comparison of the constitutions of Tunisia and Egypt will be made to underscore the development of women’s rights in post-revolution.
Tunisia’s constitution of 2014 was created by Al Nahda Islamist party which, as discussed previously, formed a coalition with secular parties. Moreover, the women’s rights organizations and civil society groups were included in the drafting process which explains the expansion of rights accorded to women. Two notable provisions will be examined in this section, Article 21 and Article 46 which highlight the gains women have made post-Arab Spring. Article 21 stipulates the following:
All citizens, male and female, have equal rights and duties, and are equal before the law without any discrimination. The state guarantees freedoms and individual and collective rights to all citizens, and provides all citizens the conditions for a dignified life (Tunisian Const. art. 21).
Article 21 included the previously controversial term “complementary” to describe women’s legal rights which in the revised constitution has been addressed. This provision establishes that women are granted the same equal rights before the law but also in social, civil, and economic realms. Thereby, women have been assured the same rights as their male counterparts rather than “complementary” rights. Contrastingly, the pre-Arab Spring Tunisian constitution, which was covered under Article 6, stipulated the following:
All citizens have the same rights and obligations. All are equal before the law (Tunisian Const. art. 6, repealed 2011).
The previous Article is formulated in broad terms and does not account for the gender biases that often exist in legal systems. Therefore, a clear and explicit legal discourse is vital in ensuring the legal rights of citizens, specifically, women, are protected in all realms of the public sphere.
The second provision is Article 46, and this particular provision is groundbreaking as it was never part of the previous constitution. Article 46 states:
The state commits to protect women’s accrued rights and work to strengthen and develop those rights. The state guarantees the equality of opportunities between women and men to have access to all levels of responsibility in all domains. The state works to attain parity between women and men in elected Assemblies. The state shall take all necessary measures in order to eradicate violence against women. (Tunisian Const. art. 46).
This provision states the commitment of the Tunisian government to protect women’s rights and develop them further, but also explicitly stipulates the state’s effort to ensure political representation of women not only in parliament but also in the run for the presidency, which is something that is found nowhere in the MENA region (Shalaby & Moghadam, 2016). Moreover, it ensures that the state will take effective measures to eradicate violence against women which, as stated earlier, has been common. Article 46 underscores the gains women have achieved in post-revolution Tunisia despite being under Islamist political rule. As stated previously, Tunisia’s parliamentary system has benefitted women’s rights by allowing secular parties to challenge the Islamist agenda when needed.
Alternatively in Egypt, the developments are multifaceted. Under the Muslim Brotherhood rule, the Egyptian constitution of 2012 lacked any mention of women’s rights, and those mentioned speak in broad terms. For example, the only direct mention of women is under Article 10 which stipulates social welfare given to divorced women. Besides this Article, the Muslim Brotherhood made no effort to establish any provisions aimed at progressing women’s rights specifically like political representation and civil as well as legal protections. The complete disregard for women’s rights is not surprising since the Muslim Brotherhood have issued statements in 2013 against the 57th session of the UN Commission on the Status of Women (CSW) and specifically the declaration ‘End Violence against Women.’ The Muslim Brotherhood consider the declaration “deceptive” and “contradicts established principles of Islam, undermine Islamic ethics, and destroy the family” (Ikhwan, 2013). The Muslim Brotherhood listed 10 points that they call “destructive tools”, and these points range from providing contraceptives to giving wives legal right to file complaints against their husbands in case of rape or sexual harassment (Ikhwan, 2013). However, as mentioned previously, protests started again, and the military took over and established a new constitution.
The new constitution, which was ratified in 2014, introduced two notable provisions, Article 11 and Article 180. Article 11 stipulates the following:
The state commits to achieving equality between women and men in all civil, political, economic, social, and cultural rights in accordance with the provisions of this Constitution. The state commits to taking the necessary measures to ensure appropriate representation of women in the houses of parliament, in the manner specified by law. It grants women the right to hold public posts and high management posts in the state, and to appointment in judicial bodies and entities without discrimination (Egyptian Const. art. 11).
While this provision is certainly an improvement on the previous constitution, scholars have raised doubts regarding the term “appropriate.” Furthermore Article 180 stipulates that women are accorded one quarter of the seats in local councils. The two articles both point to women’s political representation, yet they fail to provide a solution to women’s political representation. The term “appropriate” is worrisome as it is difficult to define the word in terms of representation as argued by Shalaby and Moghadam (2016). Therefore, it is evident that the political system in Egypt revived state-feminism, but it introduced shortcomings which are evident in Figure 2. The Figure underscores the gains made by the Egyptian constitution compared to the one drafted by the Muslim Brotherhood.
Based on the aforementioned developments, women’s rights developed distinctly in Tunisia and Egypt under Islamist rule due to an already distinct set of circumstances that developed throughout history. These historic junctures are critical as they seem to continue the trend of how women’s rights developed post-Arab Spring. The influence of these historic junctures is underscored by how the post-revolutionary constitutions were forged with regard to women’s rights. The recent developments in Tunisia with the formation of a new government under the leadership of the Arab World’s first female Prime Minister, seem to highlight a commitment towards women’s empowerment. But whether these developments will translate into substantive representation rather than a descriptive attempt to hide the political turmoil, is yet to be examined.
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