I have been reading a lot in the Egyptian press about women’s rights in the Middle East. From the state of the women movements, the ‘Virginity Test’ trial verdict, the sad case of the suicide of Amina Filali in Morocco to International Women’s day protests. Yet, reading these posts, it often seems that there is something missing: a repetition of the same old story and the same frustrating lack of solutions.

Women are certainly being discriminated against and denied the same opportunities as men in the region. A quick glance at the statistics is enough to confirm this story, yet that does not offer an explanation as to why this pattern exists and continues to exist and how this can be effectively addressed. It seems unsatisfying and incomplete to keep pointing out that women need more rights in the Middle East and North Africa. That has already been said.

While I understand the logical legal, political and social histories and context which has produced these circumstances, I feel that there are many questions which still remain. While the explanations of a patriarchal society, Islamic or old European laws, and political discrimination offer some insight into the current situation, they do not somehow seem to quite fully explain the full extent of the discrimination, its reach into so many aspects of women’s lives or how they have been persisted for so long.

Another aspect of the debate which is concerning is the way it divides men and women. Women’s rights in North Africa are not the concern of men. They are claimed by women for women and therefore claimed against men. This turns the situation into a battle ground and creates the idea that women are attempting to take rights from men.

I don’t propose to offer solutions to these questions in this quick post. I have begun investigating a few article ideas on this subject. I want to investigate what initiatives exist current exist; what other explanations are there for the current divisions; what solutions offer possibility of real change; and how does discrimination against women damage the state as a whole. I wish to shed new light on this issue. We already know that women do not have equal rights, it is time to dig deeper.

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