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Final Words

With the transformations taking place in many corners of the Arab world, there is hope for an increased and equitable participation for women. As Arab citizens push for more political freedoms, it is expected that such freedoms would naturally include women’s rights. The Arab liberation movements, including the struggling Arab Spring, represent an ongoing experiment that could materialize in significant gains for women and men alike. Equal or equitable rights for women cannot be separated from other wider societal rights:

Several leading writers have argued that the repressiveness and unquestioned dominance of the father in the family and of the male in relations between men and women replicate themselves in broader society, creating a culture of domination, intolerance, and dependency in social and political life... The notion of isomorphism between primary social relations and those that obtain in broader society has a long history in social science.... Oppression as a habit of life blocks the oppressor’s own advancement and freedom. (p. 30)35

The subjugation of women is representative of failing power structures within widespread sections of the Arab society. As the Arab world moves towards asserting the rights ofits citizens to express themselves freely within the political realm, the impact will transpire into other societal circles. It is unfortunate that we see unwavering attempts to sustain authoritarianism in many Arab countries. Failure to give Arabs, men and women, their political freedoms and autonomy is likely to regress women’s causes for many more generations to come. What is hoped is that attempts at aborting Arab aspirations for freedom and equal participation would be overpowered by increased citizen awareness and dynamism. Positive changes are likely to meet stern resistance from forces benefitting from the status quo. Good- intentioned activists, intellectuals, and women’s rights advocates from all sides, Islamist and secular, women and men, need to work together on a common agenda to further improve the lives of Arab women. By doing that they would be advancing societal prosperity and well-being for all. The blame game about who is responsible for what that has been going on for the last two centuries is leading nowhere. The only way forward for Arab liberation movements is to acknowledge their differences, stop the blame game, and work together towards the advancement of women and other marginalized groups all across the region.

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