‘ The Arab Spring has proven an epochal period of activism and change for women, recalling the role of early feminists in the 1919 Egyptian movement for independence from Britain, or the important place of women in the Algerian Revolution. The sheer numbers of politically active women in this series of uprisings, however, dwarf their predecessors. That this female element in the Arab Spring has drawn so little comment in the West suggests that our own narratives of, and preoccupations with, the Arab world — religion, fundamentalism, oil and Israel — have blinded us to the big social forces that are altering the lives of 300 million people.
Women have been aided by this generation’s advances in education and the professions, by the prominence of articulate women anchors on satellite television networks like Aljazeera, and by the rise of the Internet and social media. Women can assert leadership roles in cyberspace that young men’s dominance of the public sphere might have hampered in city squares.
Their prominence in the labor movements and at the public rallies in Tunisia and Egypt, moreover, underlines how much more of a public role they now have than is usually acknowledged. ‘
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