Normative Paradigms and Constraints on Equal Rights for Women in the Arab World

  • Amira El Azhary Sonbol
Part of the Comparative Feminist Studies book series (CFS)


The prominent role played by women during the Arab Spring raises questions regarding the dominant narratives by which the history of women in the Middle East has been studied. While Arab women are often depicted as secluded and confined to private spheres, historical research presents a different image—one that accounts for efforts to change women’s status and family laws and to allow full political participation and equal rights for women. This chapter raises questions about constructed narratives and the discursive construction of “the modern Arab woman.” The analysis focuses on a re-examination of women’s lived realities and the legal documents that affected their lives to provide a clearer picture of Arab women’s history.


Women Legal rights Sharia law Islamic tradition Courts History 


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Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  • Amira El Azhary Sonbol
    • 1
  1. 1.School of Foreign ServiceGeorgetown UniversityDohaQatar

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