Gender Issues: Women and Empowerment in the Arab World
ISA Meknes Study Center
Area of Study
African Studies, Anthropology, Middle Eastern Studies, Religion, Sociology, Women's and Gender Studies
Taught In English
Availability of courses is based on enrollment numbers. All students should seek pre-approval for alternate courses in the event of last minute class cancellations.
Course Level Recommendations
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Recommended U.S. Semester Credits0
Recommended U.S. Quarter Units0
Hours & Credits
USF Code: WST 3412
This course is a sweeping examination of different issues related to gender dynamics in the Arab world and In Morocco particularly. Participants in this course will have an eye opening experience, focusing on how women’s and men’s roles have changed within the last decades due to the transition that the Arab world and Morocco have witnessed at the political, social and technological levels. Yet, everyone is aware that many conservative practices and beliefs persist. This course endeavors to analyze the tension between tradition and modernity and how these two converging narratives reveal a tense debate about the role of women and men within the MENA in general and Morocco in particular. The course explores how women have more opportunities for education and enjoy stronger legal rights, and how some individual women have even acquired leadership in different fields--even those that were mainly male dominated. However, women still face a litany of discriminations and abuses fueled by a mix of culture and religion that debase women. Therefore, in this course we will deal with a variety of struggles faced by women in challenging male dominance in their societies, most of which are patriarchal by definition. Among the issues we’ll explore are: sexual harassment, genital mutilation, early marriages, marital rape… Whatever the changes that are happening in Morocco we are still behind as far as women’s rights are concerned. In fact, according to the World Economic Forum’s Global Gender Gap Report that investigates four major areas (health:life expectancy, etc.; access to education; economic participation and political participation), Saudi Arabia was ranked 127th, Yemen 136th (the very bottom) and Morocco even if it was touted for its progressive ‘family law’ or ‘Moudawana’ was ranked 129th. Other major topics we will deal with are women’s movements in the MENA; some well-known Arab women figures, such as Fatima Mernissi (Morocco), Mona Eltahawy (Egyptian-American), Ayan Hirsi Ali (Somali born, DutchAmerican activist), Nawal al-Saadawi (Egypt),Toujan al-Faisal (Jordan), Tawakkul Karman (Yemen), Wajeeha alHuwaider (Saudi Arabia) among others; women and violence; women and empowerment; women and their participation in the Islamist movement.