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Women's Voices on the Arab Spring: Isobel Coleman

Author: Isobel Coleman, Senior Fellow and Director of the Civil Society, Markets, and Democracy Initiative; Director of the Women and Foreign Policy Program
January 27, 2012
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1. Was the role of women in the Arab Spring more or less meaningful than that of men?

Women's role has been equally important to that of men, and meaningful in different ways. Their participation in the early days brought critical legitimacy and attention to opposition movements, and their ongoing activism has shone a spotlight not only on women's rights, but also on issues of minority rights and religious freedom. In Libya, women sparked the first big protests against the regime when they demonstrated outside of Abu Salim prison in Benghazi. In Yemen, women have taken to the streets in unprecedented fashion, helping to broaden and sustain the opposition movement. In Egypt, they have protested and blogged alongside men, but also fought back against humiliations such as 'virginity tests' by the military and other targeted abuses by security forces.

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