History is full of extraordinary women, but their stories are seldomly told. In the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region, as elsewhere, the influential names of political and social struggles that are talked about in school or media are overwhelmingly male. Nonetheless, there are also many women who accomplished outstanding achievements and made great sacrifices for their beliefs, often against high odds. In many cases, these women inspired others and made a long-lasting impact on their societies.
Therefore, over the upcoming 16 Days of Activism against Gender-Based Violence, The Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung (FES) MENA office sets out to identify and tell the stories of some of these influential women who worked towards gender justice. With this anthology, we want to share their inspiring messages and show how manifold the roots of feminism and gender equality are in the MENA region.
Since we had to limit ourselves to sixteen stories only, some hard choices had to be made. Many more stories could and should be told of the women working and fighting for gender justice in the region. Therefore, the list of feminists that will be shared do not represent an exclusive one and do not cover the whole lives of the women but focus on their contributions to gender justice within a specific historic, political and social context.
The women whose stories are told are diverse in many aspects: age, class, race, education, and upbringing. Some used their privileged position in society to drive change towards social justice, while others had to fight hard to create space for themselves in the first place. But they all have one thing in common: determination to change the lives of women and girls for the better, and with this they paved the way for women’s rights in the MENA region.
Learn more about the areas covered by the regional Political Feminism project