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Mapping Arab Women's MovementsA Century of Transformations from Within$
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Pernille Arenfeldt and Nawar Al-Hassan Golley

Print publication date: 2012

Print ISBN-13: 9789774164989

Published to Cairo Scholarship Online: September 2012

DOI: 10.5743/cairo/9789774164989.001.0001

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Convergences and Divergences: Egyptian Women's Activisms over the Last Century

Convergences and Divergences: Egyptian Women's Activisms over the Last Century

(p.43) 2 Convergences and Divergences: Egyptian Women's Activisms over the Last Century
Mapping Arab Women's Movements

Leslie Lewis

American University in Cairo Press

This chapter dispels several interrelated myths about Egyptian women's actions and activisms today and throughout history. One common assumption in the west is that Muslim women and, in particular, those who embrace strict interpretations and practices of Islam are by definition passive observers of their own lives, oppressed in turn by fathers, husbands, social norms, and legal institutions. As I will show, very frequently the opposite is true. Many prominent Egyptian activists, remarkable change agents in their own lives and in society at large, have been religious: most often Muslims, by dint of sheer numbers, but also Coptic Christians. Beyond simply bringing a religious sensibility to their projects, a significant proportion of women's group activisms have had religion generally, and Islam specifically, as their guiding moral force. Today, pious women's efforts on behalf of other women and their families have real, positive effects in the lives of the women they aid.

Keywords:   women, movements, activism, Egyptian, Century, Egypt, Nasser, Arab socialism, feminist

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