Women in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) have seen positive changes in their economic and political rights between 2005 and 2010. According to research carried out by Freedom House, 14 out of the 17 MENA countries recorded some gains in the status of women. The Gulf States recorded the highest degrees of improvement, with women becoming more visible participants in public life, education, and business during this period. Overall conditions for women worsened in Iraq, Yemen and the occupied Palestinian territory (West Bank, including East Jerusalem and Gaza Strip), which is partly related to the uncertain security situation (Kelly 2010).
While women have been extensively involved in the Arab awakening and have played key roles in many countries, the outcomes of their involvement are still unclear. For instance:
- While progress has been made in Tunisia with regard to political representation in parties and the removal of restrictions on the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW), in Egypt and Libya activists are worried about new limitations on women’s political participation and rights.
- In Egypt the committee set up to draft the new constitution lacks female representatives, omitting a key perspective in the promotion and protection of women’s rights and in Libya no women are currently represented in the National Transitional Council.