There is no social justice without gender justice and there is no gender justice without socioeconomic and political reforms. How can feminists in the MENA region drive these reforms, or at the very least, how can feminist perspectives be better integrated into them?
In the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region, women have been on the frontline of protests calling for social justice, with their participation proving crucial during the different waves of the Arab Spring. Yet, the mainstream public discourse around tackling the mounting social, economic, and political crises, and eradicating the injustices associated with the current situation and the anticipated changes, often overlooks women’s voices and feminist perspectives.
Moreover, personal status laws, labor laws, social security systems, and criminal codes across the region maintain traditional gender roles that subject women to male guardianship and economic control. Despite decades of feminist action and advocacy in the region, the resistance to change when it comes to these traditional gender roles is evident in the continued underrepresentation and exclusion of women from the political, economic, cultural, and social spheres. Women who experience multilayered oppression are even more excluded and marginalized.
These challenges are coupled with other factors that have had a negative impact on feminist movements across the global south. These range from the "NGOization" of feminist activism to gaps between feminist theory and action, with the result that feminist movements have become less politicized and increasingly constrained.
Since 2018, the Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung’s Political Feminism Program in the MENA region works with feminist partners and women’s rights activists on advancing gender justice advocacy at a regional level, mainstreaming intersectional feminist principles and approaches with a focus on feminist economics, and repoliticizing feminist movements and activism across the MENA region. We support the production of feminist knowledge, provide training opportunities, launch campaigns, and foster alliances and networking between feminist organizations and other progressive actors such as trade unions and environmental movements.