Women

Transcript

How Women Are Transforming the Middle East

Speaker: Isobel Coleman
Presider: Richard N. Haass

In "Paradise Beneath Her Feet," Isobel Coleman shows how Muslim women and men are fighting back with progressive interpretations of Islam to support women's rights in a growing movement of Islamic feminism. Dr. Coleman argues that these efforts are critical to bridging the conflict between those championing reform and those seeking to oppress women in the name of religious tradition.

See more in Middle East and North Africa; Women

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Authors: Isobel Coleman and Tamara Cofman Wittes

In February, Tamara Cofman Wittes and Isobel Coleman met with business leaders, academics, journalists, and civic activists in Riyadh and Jeddah, Saudi Arabia. Among Wittes and Coleman's key findings are that many Saudis welcomed the emergence of a more open atmosphere, pointing to King Abdullah's ascension to the throne, dynamism in neighboring Gulf states, and a new "post-post-9/11" environment as key catalysts for the change. Yet, there was frustration at the unpredictability and arbitrariness of the newly expanded social and political space. The next U.S. administration may have a new, but narrow, window of opportunity to reintroduce itself to Saudi Arabia. Many Saudis argued for the creation of a deeper, multi-dimensional relationship between both countries that engages civil society, not just the government and business sectors.

See more in Saudi Arabia; Women