Abstract for “The Role of Women in Political Reforms in the Arab World in the 21st Century”

In this project, I will be analyzing the roles of women in political reforms in the Arab world in the 21st century in three key manners. First, I will research how women impacted and inspired the reforms to the Moudawana, the family legal code of Morocco, in 2004 under the reign of King Mohammed VI which strongly impacted- at least formally- women’s social and political roles in the state. In contrast to the other two parts of this project, the case of the Moroccan Moudawana reforms represent an instance where women influenced reforms without the context of an overarching political revolution. The second portion of my project will focus upon Tunisia. This analysis will feature the turn toward “political piety” by many Tunisian women in response to Ben Ali’s government and in opposition to the established order pre-Arab Spring/Uprisings which enforced secularism. It will note the contributions of women to the revolution in Tunisia. Going further, it will compare women’s political opportunities pre- and post-revolution in the administrations of Ben Ali, the Ennahda party, and the Nidaa Tounis party through analysis of female political participation in parliament, cabinet positions, and local or provincial governments. Finally, the paper will conclude by detailing the significant impact of women upon the Arab Spring/Uprisings across the region, including Tawakkol Karman in Yemen, the Al-Khawajas in Bahrain, Lina Ben Mhenni in Tunisia, and others. Generally, the aim of this paper will be to demonstrate the political power of women in the Arab world to influence governmental reforms and revolutions while analyzing whether their involvement yielded tangible positive results or political opportunities for female citizens in the short and/or long term.