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Women Leaders Reflect on the Arab Spring

This March, Tanenbaum Peacemaker Hind Kabawat lent her voice to a publication of the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars, “Reflections on Women in the Arab Spring.” Complied by Haleh Esfandiari, director of the center’s Middle East program, the comments of the femalescholars, activists, business executives, journalists, politicians, and officials are not encouraging. They speak of a movement which many women joined eagerly and equally alongside men, but which has since excluded them. Many of the women in the report see the rights of Arab women eroding throughout the Middle East despite the promises of dignity and equal representation seemingly heralded by the Arab Spring.

But these women also see more change on the horizon. Some are optimistic, like Omezzine Khélifa, a Tunisian politician, who sees genuine opportunities for women’s equality. Others, like Dalia Ziada, and Egyptian human rights activist, have much grimmer outlooks, but predict that women will not allow themselves to remain marginalized for long.
Hind adds her voice to those encouraging Arab women to take control of their own future: “Women in Syria will continue the fight. We will keep fighting against whoever assumes leadership if we don’t get our rights….The future belongs to those women who decided like their fellow men not to keep silent.”