Arab feminism and the struggle for women’s rights

Nieves Paradela


This article analyses the main historical and ideological features which have characterized Arab feminism since its origins in the second half of XIX century until nowadays. In its initial phase, Arab feminism was articulated within a nationalistic and secular discourse, and the first women’s organizations worked hard in defence of girl’s education, female work and the achievement of legal equality. On the very sensitive issue of wearing the hijab or not, most urban and learned women were against it. With the reislamization of Arab societies –a process that arose in the 70’s of XX century– the so-called «Islamic feminism» appeared both in Arab societies and in western countries. This is a new and controversial phenomenon that coexists –sometimes in harmony, others showing their strong differences– with secular and liberal feminism.


Feminism; Gender; Islam; Arab society; Rights of women


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