New POMED Policy Brief: On the Front Lines of Change
Women have played a central role in the uprisings sweeping the Middle East and North Africa, and now, as some of these countries undergo transitions, women’s rights must be incorporated into broader demands for social, economic, and political reform. In the latest POMED policy brief, Isobel Coleman examines the women’s movements in Tunisia and Egypt in the context of the Arab Spring. A transition to an inclusive, authentic democracy will bring marginalized religious parties like Tunisia’s Islamist al-Nahda and Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood into the political mainstream, necessitating a reconciliation of their demands for Sharia rule with women’s rights.
While both the Bush and Obama administrations have prioritized the expansion of women’s rights in the Arab world, U.S. policymakers’ statements have been largely rhetorical in nature. Moving forward, Coleman recommends that the U.S. condition foreign assistance on the progression of women’s rights, employ both back channel negotiation and public diplomacy to advance these rights, and build cross-country networks to strengthen women’s groups in the region.