Higher research seminar with Rola Al-Husseini: Women and Political Representation after the Arab Uprisings
Convenors: karin [dot] aggestam [at] svet [dot] lu [dot] se (Karin Aggestam) & anders [dot] uhlin [at] svet [dot] lu [dot] se (Anders Uhlin)
Presentation by Associate Professor Rola Al-Husseini, Centre for Middle East Studies at Lund University, on State Feminism or the Instrumentalization of Women's Rights: Women and Political Representation after the Arab Uprisings
This book project argues that feminism is used by Arab regimes primarily as an instrument of state legitimization. Using semi-structured interviews with civil society actors, civil servants and employees of international organization in addition to analysis of legal reform and available data on women’s representation, this book attempts to demonstrate that regardless of the regime type, most Arab countries have adopted a variation on the same state-feminism approaches to respond to pressures from grassroots civil-society organizations and from external actors. This state feminism generally takes the form of gender quotas in elected bodies, the appointment of women to “soft” positions in the executive cabinet, and legislation that seeks to advance women’s rights. While they all operate out of the same authoritarian playbook, these countries vary in the timing, motivation, and effectiveness of their feminist policies. However, as the study of Iraq and Lebanon shows, the greatest successes for state-feminism approaches are associated with stable, non-sectarian, and non-fragmented regimes.
Rola El-Husseini is a new senior lecturer with the Center for Middle Eastern Studies at Lund University, Sweden. She has previously held positions at Yale University, Texas A&M University, the Graduate Center of the City University of New York, and George Washington University. Her first book Pax Syriana: Elite Politics in Postwar Lebanon was published by Syracuse University Press in 2012. The book which was based on extensive fieldwork, analyzed power-sharing in the Lebanese political system in the post-civil-war period (1989–2005), and examined the role of Syrian hegemony in underpinning the stability of the Lebanese state. She has also published on the Lebanese Hezbollah, on Arab Shi‘ism and Iran, and is currently preparing an edited volume on Lebanese Shi‘ism.