(In collaboration with Termometro Politico)

Last Sunday, the world celebrated International Women’s Day in order to remember the social and political accomplishments of women, their struggles to obtain respect of civil rights, their history and their strength. However, in many parts of the world, the living conditions of women are still jeopardized. Especially in the Middle East and in Northern Africa, despite their evolutionary role in the Arab society, women are fighting an ongoing battle for their civil rights.

Women’s Day in the MENA region

The difficult history of women’s liberation in the Middle East region dates back to the Ottoman reform of Family Law in 1917. From then on, in many countries of the Middle East, and in Northern Africa, women reached important achievements in the field of civil rights. However, gender equality is still far from being achieved. In the Middle East, generations of women have been fighting for their liberation: Palestinian women fight against military occupation and against the patriarchal society; Turkish women fight against Erdogan’s homophobia; Arabian women fight to have their fundamental rights recognized; Syrian and Iraqi women fight against violence, rape and kidnapping by ISIS; Kurdish Peshmerga women fight against the crazy idea of the creation of an Islamic State in the name of democracy and freedom. In Iraq and in Syria, about thirty years ago, women had much more freedom and rights. After many years of war and conflicts, women saw their social, civil and political status erode. More particularly, in the regions between the two countries that are now occupied by the Jihadist militants of the ISIS movement, women are reduced to slavery and subjected to dreadful mistreatments by the Caliphate who has introduced a new interpretation of the Shari’a Law which is different from the traditional Quran’s precepts. In the meantime, on March 6th,in Algeria, a new law was adopted which severely punishes domestic violence against women.

Men in burqa

“We cannot marginalise and forget our women. This event was held in their honor”, these are the words issued from the center Mazaya in Syria. In view of March 8th, the center organized an event in support of women participating in first line of the protest movement against the regime of Bashar al -Assad.

Recently, the afghan artist Kubra Khademi walked in the main street of Kabul with a suit of armour that emphasized the shapes of her body in order to denounce the frequent sexual abuse in the country. A few days after, on March 5th, always in Kabul, a group of men manifested in favor of the rights of Afghan women by wearing blue burqas in support of gender equality. Similarly, in Istanbul, a group of men marched on the main streets with miniskirts to protest violence against women. The campaign aimed at drawing attention to the widespread phenomenon of rape which has increased by 400% since 2002 when the Islamic party AKP with President Erdogan came into power.

Women activism against atrocities and crimes committed to women remains the key instrument of hope for the improvement of the condition of the Muslim woman and her emancipation in the Middle East.

 

FEDERICA GAGLIARDINI

Master’s degree in International Relations (LUISS Guido Carli)