Civil and political rights - - Euro-Mediterranean region

Women's Political Presence in the Arab Mediterranean Region: Governance, Contentious Politics, and Agency

10.11.2020 / Created by (EMWF)

The first two decades of the 21st century has seen its share of dramatic events: the “war on terror” launched in the aftermath of the 11 September 2001 assaults on U.S. cities; the 2003 US/UK-led invasion and occupation of Iraq; the 2008 financial crisis and the Great Recession; the 2011 Arab uprisings, Occupy Wall Street, and European anti-austerity protests; the NATO assault on Libya and external intervention in Syria; the 2015 migration crisis; the global expansion of right-wing populist movements and governments; a new cycle of protests in France, Algeria, Iran, Iraq, Morocco, Lebanon, and the U.S. in 2018-2020; and the 2020 COVID-19 pandemic. Clearly, the Euro-Mediterranean Partnership has been unable to shape those events and their outcomes. Equally clear is that women have been involved in and affected by those events in multiple ways, whether as agents or victims. In this paper, the author examine the Arab Mediterranean region to elucidate women’s presence in varied movements and mobilizations, and their participation in national and local governance. Indeed, women’s intensive involvement in both institutional and non-institutional politics – in governance, civil society, and contentious politics – has been a hallmark of 21st century leadership and activism. Women’s presence, however, varies across countries. Algeria, Morocco, and Tunisia have long had vocal and visible women’s rights organizations with the capacity to influence legislation, and the adoption of gender quotas and proportional representation electoral systems has enabled a relatively large female presence in local and national governance.

This paper examines expressions of feminist contentious politics, women’s involvement in broader protest movements, and implications for old and emerging forms of governance. It highlights demands for new gendered social contracts, more responsive government, and societal change. Despite the region’s serious economic and employment challenges as well as the COVID-19 pandemic, women’s continued activism in both civil society and political society reflects the profound social changes that have occurred over the past four decades, with implications for democratization.

The article is featured within issue number 51 of the journal IDEES, entitled "A New Vision for the Mediterranean". 

Illustration: Carole Hénaff


  • Type of publication : Article
  • Author : Valentine Moghadam
  • Publishing house : Centre d'Estudis de Temes Contemporanis de la Generalitat de Catalunya
  • Publication date : 2020
  • Number of pages : 11
  • Language : English, Spanish and Catalan


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Association ACM
Gender Alternatives Foundation (GAF)
Arab Institute for Human Rights
Young Men Christian Association (YMCA)
Women in Morocco
Youth & Women Empowerment Forum
Association club de le jeune fille pour la formation à l'action de développement
Anouar Association
Genre en Action
Youth Capacities Development Association-Biskra (YCDB)
Safadi Foundation
Women Helping Women Network-Jordan
Cyprus University
Libyan Women Forum (LWF)
Women'  s Centre for Legal Aid and Counselling
2 RIVES TV (Lyon TV Cable)
Euro-Mediterranean Women's Foundation
Women'  s Alliance for Virtual Exchange (WAVE)
Centre ADHUC—Teoria, Gènere, Sexualitat
Union Nationale de la Femme Tunisienne (UNFT)
Forum de Femmes Méditerranée (FFM)
AMANE – Association Meilleur Avenir pour Nos Enfants
Association Talassemtane pour l'Environnement et Développement (ATED)
Association Beity
Association Tawaza pour le plaidoyer de la femme
Women Empowerment Unit in Jerash Municipality
Hassène Kassar
Ibtikar for Empowerment and Social Entrepreneurship
Ankara University
Khaled Salah Mahmoud
Try Center for Training and Education
Genre Culture Diversité et Développement (GCDD)
Creativity Center for Citizenship and Democracy
Association Al Nada pour la Citoyenneté et le Développement Gafsa (ANCD)
Université Antonine

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