World Citizen: Arab Women Progress on Rights, but There is Far to Go

World Citizen: Arab Women Progress on Rights, but There is Far to Go

As I made my way to Iraq in 2003 to cover the unfolding operation to overthrow Saddam Hussein, I spent many hours speaking to pro-democracy and women's rights activists in Kuwait. Back then, Kuwaiti activists held high hopes for positive change. Kuwaiti women had spent years fighting for the right to vote and run for office. If democracy came to Iraq, they assured me, it would give a push to their own agenda and bring them closer to success. Pro-democracy pioneer Lullwah al-Mullah told me, "Iraq is the country of Arab culture. It is the country of Islamic culture." A democratic Iraq with equality for women, she said, would lead the rest of the region in the same direction.

As it happened, the road to democratic peace in Iraq took a painful detour. Still, even as Iraq struggled, Arab and Muslim women continued their determined efforts. Without question, they have a long way to go. But there are signs that those efforts are bearing fruit.

The Arab world has the greatest democracy deficit on the planet. That alone works against the equality of women. A combination of religious and traditional customs also complicates the task of building equality. Millions of women in parts of the Arab and Muslim world still face some of the most restrictive and unequal conditions anywhere. But incremental progress is now undeniable.

Keep reading for free!

Get instant access to the rest of this article by submitting your email address below. You'll also get access to three articles of your choice each month and our free newsletter:

Or, Subscribe now to get full access.

Already a subscriber? Log in here .

What you’ll get with an All-Access subscription to World Politics Review:

A WPR subscription is like no other resource — it’s like having a personal curator and expert analyst of global affairs news. Subscribe now, and you’ll get:

  • Immediate and instant access to WPR’s fully searchable library of 16,000+ articles
  • Daily articles with original analysis, written by leading topic experts, delivered to you every weekday
  • Weekly in-depth reports on important issues and countries
  • Daily links to must-read news and analysis from top sources around the globe, curated by our keen-eyed team of editors
  • The Weekly Wrap-Up email, with highlights of the week’s most important coverage, and what’s to come.
  • Completely ad-free reading.

And all of this is available to you when you subscribe today.

More World Politics Review