Center for Global Affairs
Women and Gender in the Middle East and South Asia
In this seminar we will critically examine the current state of women¿s rights and activism in the Middle East and South Asia with a particular focus on Afghanistan, Pakistan, Iran, Turkey, Egypt and the Gulf States. Specifically, we will separate the myth of the veiled, oppressed or fanatically religious ¿Muslim Woman¿ from the lived reality of millions of women in this diverse region by exploring how the gendered discourses of power and citizenship, national ideologies, historical legacies, interpretations of religious law and social traditions affect and shape women¿s lives in the real world, particularly in matters of family law, participation in the labor market and political process. The picture that will emerge will be a surprisingly complex, nuanced and contradictory one, highlighting the very different political and social realities of women in countries such as Egypt, Iran and the Gulf States. We will pay particular attention to Islamic feminism and political Islam as frames and venues for women¿s (self-) empowerment and conclude with an exploration of the contours and effectiveness of women¿s resistance, self-empowerment and activism in the region.