Women's Organizations in Kuwait

by Haya al-Mughni
published in MER198

Women’s groups, like all voluntary associations in Kuwait, are controlled and funded by the state. They have elected boards, written constitutions and paid memberships. Law 24 of 1962 governing the activity of associations -- partially amended in 1965 and still in force -- gives the Ministry of Social Affairs and Labor full control and power over voluntary associations. The Ministry has the power to refuse to license an association, to dissolve its elected board or to terminate an association if it determines the group not to be beneficial to society as a whole or not to be abiding by its constitution.

On Gender and Citizenship in Turkey

by Yesim Arat
published in MER198

In the summer of 1993, True Path Party delegates -- 99.8 percent of them males -- selected Tansu Çiller as chairperson of their party and thus their candidate for prime minister. For the first time since 1934, when women gained the right to vote and to be elected to Parliament, a woman became prime minister of Turkey. If citizenship involves the rights and responsibilities of membership to a state, here was a woman who had fully exercised her right to head the government of her country.

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Gender, Civil Society and Citizenship in Algeria

by Boutheina Cheriet
published in MER198

In 1993, I attended a ceremony of trance dancing called “Benga,” organized by the only group still performing in the town of Tebessa where I then lived. [1] The Tidjania group of Tebessa is a residual branch of the larger African Islamic sect that has practiced trance dancing for healing purposes, in particular as therapy in exorcising “bad spirits.” The Benga dance relies on a highly organized drumming team, accompanying religious litanies celebrating the prophet Muhammad, which leads the dancer to fall into a “liberating faint.”

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Women and the Women's Equal Rights Law in Israel

by Nitza Berkovitch
published in MER198

Israeli society, even prior to the formation of the state, has been permeated by a strong myth of sexual equality. Shortly after the establishment of the Jewish nation-state, the Israeli Knesset began intensive debates on a body of legislation that would guide and define subsequent discourse on issues that concern the relationship between women and the state. One of those early laws, the Women’s Equal Rights Law of 1951, has had a lasting influence on the ways in which women have been incorporated into and mobilized by Israeli society. It has a direct impact on the construction of the Jewish Israeli female subject, first and foremost, as mother and wife, and not as individual or citizen.

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Women's Court in Beirut

"See the World Through the Eyes of a Woman"

by Jehan Helou
published in MER198

From June 28-30, 1995, under the slogan “See the World Through the Eyes of a Woman,” a women’s court on political and social violence against women was held in Beirut. Inspired by similar courts organized by the Asian Human Rights Council, the Beirut court -- the first of its kind in the Arab world -- was convened in preparation for the Beijing NGO Women’s Conference and the “International Court on Women: World Public Hearings on Crimes Against Women” held in Beijing in September.

Gender and Citizenship in Middle Eastern States

by Suad Joseph
published in MER198

The debate on citizenship in the Middle East was preceded by and now parallels the debate on civil society. In the West, discussion on these subjects often assumes Middle Eastern countries are incapable of sustaining democratic relations between state and society. [1] The citizenship debate questions the capacities of Middle Eastern governments to allow or enable their members to participate actively in the political process. Despite the burgeoning of these debates, most theorists have neglected or glossed over the issue of gender. [2]

Turkish Women and the Welfare Party

An Interview with Sirin Tekeli

by Nukte Devrim-Bouvard
published in MER199

After the victory of the Welfare Party in the municipal elections of March 1994, the newly-elected mayor of Istanbul, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, thanked the disciplined and devoted Islamist women who had campaigned door-to-door until election day. Islamist women also gave the same determined performance during the general election campaign. Contrary to expectations, however, the Welfare administration refused at the last minute to allow women to become parliamentary candidates for the general elections in December 1995. Headscarved women, they claimed, would have difficulty because of the dress code which prohibits women in public offices from wearing the headscarf, a prohibition which applies to women deputies in the parliament.

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Nasrallah, On Boys, Girls and the Veil

by Walter Armbrust
published in MER200

Yousry Nasrallah’s new documentary film, On Boys, Girls and the Veil, touches on a paradoxical aspect of Egyptian filmmaking. Despite the ubiquitous hijab -- the neo-Islamic “veil” -- in Egyptian life, covered women are quite rare in the cinema. The reason for this is that both filmmakers and Islamists conflate the hijab with political discourse on the role of religion in politics and modern life in general. The topic of politicized religion -- or religion in any manifestation that intersects with modernity -- is not high on the agenda of the Egyptian film industry, and one therefore sees few covered women in Egyptian films.

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Berber Associations and Cultural Change in Algeria

Dancing Toward "La Mixite"

by Jane Goodman
published in MER200

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