chapter  31
21 Pages

Simona Sharoni, 'Middle East Politics through Feminist Lenses: Toward Theorizing International Relations from Women's Struggles' (1993)

That Middle Eastern women have been leading opposition movements and taking positions on international politics would not come as a surprise to those who are familiar with histories of women’s struggles in the region. Wide­ spread women’s resistance to the recent Gulf War is only the latest chapter of an unwritten genealogy of Middle Eastern women’s resistance to encroaching imperial powers.3 In the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, women’s movements in Egypt and Palestine used feminist and nationalist discourses to articulate positions against imperial and neocolonial practices.4 Almost a century later, in the aftermath of the Gulf War, the Egyptian government dissolved the Arab Women’s Solidarity Association (AWSA) following a September 1990 conference AWSA had organized on Arab women and journalism in which the participants opposed both Iraq’s invasion of Kuwait and the burgeoning US-organized military intervention. Egyptian feminists argue that this act was not simply a “domestic” political backlash or regime pandering to Islamist positions on women’s rights; they are convinced

that their intervention into the international politics of the Gulf War was taken quite seriously and perceived as a threat to the “stability” of the region as defined by privileged male elites in Washington, DC, and in Cairo.5