Onwards and Upwards with Women in the Gulf

by Andrew Leber , Charlotte Lysa | published January 11, 2018

Change is afoot for Saudi Arabia’s female citizens, or so suggests much commentary about events over the past few years. There was the first election in which women could vote, the first public concert by a female performer, and soon (if all goes according to plan) for the first time Saudi women will be able to drive on the streets of Riyadh and elsewhere in the kingdom. All have garnered their share of headlines.

Virtual Space and Collective Action in Egypt

Post-Revolutionary Communities on Facebook

by Sherine Hafez
published in MER281

Traffic crawls as usual through Tahrir Square in downtown Cairo, making its noisy way around the 65-foot pole flying the Egyptian flag newly erected in the middle of the plaza. It is hard to imagine that in January 2011 this very spot was the epicenter of the grassroots revolution that toppled President Husni Mubarak. Since the summer 2013 coup, the military-backed regime has remade this space of insurrection into one of imposed national unity. The revolutionary graffiti is long since whitewashed; the headquarters of Mubarak’s National Democratic Party, incinerated during the uprising, is demolished.

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Impact of the World Market on Egyptian Women

by Judith Gran

Published in MERIP Reports 58 (June 1977):

“ISIS Is One Piece of the Puzzle”

Sheltering Women and Girls in Iraq and Syria

by Jillian Schwedler
published in MER276

Yifat Susskind is executive director of MADRE, an international women’s human rights organization based in New York. Jillian Schwedler spoke with her on October 28, 2015, the week after Yanar Mohammed, head of MADRE’s partner group the Organization of Women’s Freedom in Iraq (OWFI), testified before the UN Security Council about women’s vital role in sustainable peacebuilding and about the task of sheltering women fleeing sexual violence, including from areas controlled by ISIS.

What are the basic challenges for your work in Iraq, where the state does not fully function?

Some Thoughts on November 13 and After

by Azadeh Kian | published November 20, 2015 - 1:29pm

My son and I were both so excited. It was my first time attending a soccer game at a stadium. And it was a momentous match, pitting the French national team against their counterparts from Germany. The Stade de France just outside Paris was full of almost 80,000 spectators of different social groups, ethnicities, ages and genders. Watching a match at a stadium, I realized, is very different from watching it on television. I was thinking about my Iranian sisters who cannot enter a stadium in Tehran as I can in Europe.

Iran's Unfair Nationality Laws

by Narges Bajoghli | published November 9, 2015 - 9:41am

At an October meeting of young Iranian-American leaders at the residence of the Iranian ambassador to the United Nations, I asked Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif about the country’s unfair nationality laws. By these statutes, no Iranian woman married to a non-Iranian man can pass on her citizenship to her children, whereas an Iranian man can pass it on not only to his children, but also to a non-Iranian wife.

Poems for the Women of Egypt

published in MER82

The Future and the Ancestor

The dead’s right grain
ls woven in our flesh
within the channels of the blood
Sometimes we bend
beneath the fullness of ancestors.

But the present that shatters walls,
banishes boundaries
and invents the road to come,
rings on.

Right in the center of our lives
liberty shines,
begets our race
and sows the salt of words.

Let the memory of blood
be vigilant but never void the day.
Let us precede ourselves
across new thresholds.

Andrée Chedid


I am a woman...

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The Cares of Umm Muhammad

published in MER82

Nagya Muhammad al-Bakr -- known as Umm Muhammad, mother of Muhammad -- is 37 years old and works as a hospital attendant in the Heart Institute in Imbaba, Cairo. She is married to Bayoumi ‘Abd al-Baqi and has eight children. This interview, excerpted and translated from the Arabic by MERIP editor Judith Tucker, was published in the Egyptian journal al-Tali‘a in February 1976.

Where are you from?

From the peasantry. Our village is Minya al-Ghamh, in the province of Sharqiyya, and I’m from the ‘izba of Shalshamun. We came to Cairo twenty years ago.

Can you read and write?

Textile Workers of Shubra al-Khayma

by Mona Hammam
published in MER82

Dire material necessity is increasingly forcing Egyptian women to take up wage labor. Job conditions are poor, pay is low and social sanctions are heavy. Women make up 12 percent of the Egyptian industrial workforce, concentrated in textiles, food industries and pharmaceuticals. In textiles, an important Egyptian industry, their present numbers and their historical role are quite substantial.

Tawil, My Home, My Prison

by Fouzi El-Asmar
published in MER92

Ramonda Hawa Tawil, My Home, My Prison (New York: Holt, Rinehart & Winston, 1979).

This book is the autobiography of a woman in revolt, but whose revolt is accidental. Although its title suggests a high degree of political awareness, the author conveys very little of the depth and impact of the struggle of the Palestinian people under Zionist occupation. The sole virtue of the book is to expose the self-centered elitist political perspective of the author. This is worth something, considering how the occupation authorities and the Western media have, each in their own way, conveyed the impression that she is a militant champion of the Palestinian struggle.

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