As the Arab world rumbles and shakes, women in the region are experiencing the good, the bad and the ugly that comes with instability, transition and crisis. From Tunisia and Egypt to Syria, Libya and Bahrain, women have been present and vocal in the street protest movements, standing shoulder to shoulder with men, resisting the batons and tear gas, and being killed. Many have been key organizers and leaders in social networking, helping to articulate a common message and vision of freedom, democracy and equality, and providing logistical support to men at the frontlines of violence. They have also faced many of the same physical and sexual threats and risks that women, elsewhere have encountered during the crises and transitions, including harassment, assault and death. Despite their contribution, they are again facing exclusion from the political processes under way.
In the first of ICAN’s What the Women Say MENA region briefs, we highlight common regional trends that threaten basic norms of democracy, equality and affect women’s abilities to participate in and influence the decision-making processes – nationally and internationally – that will determine the course of these countries’ futures and their lives.