ABSTRACT

This chapter explores the structural limits of the liberalization policies adopted by Algeria, Egypt and Jordan in the late 1980s as expressed in modalities of women’s participation in sociopolitical life. Of late some analysts have argued in favor of the exceptional character of Middle Eastern social formations, and upheld the notion that the promotion of women’s rights cannot be undertaken for the purpose of achieving equality with men, but in accordance with what local religious norms tolerate (Stilt 2004). This chapter rejects this exceptionalist thesis, as it gives short shrift to the complexity of Middle Eastern societies, especially in times of political crises. It seeks instead to locate women’s sociopolitical participation at the interface between national politics and geopolitics, as it addresses the intended and unintended political consequences for women of the emergence of religion in the politics of the three countries.