Panel Discussion Recap
Dr. Fida Adely began her presentation by noting that, historically, women in the Arab World have been involved politically, including taking on leadership roles. She suggested that women in the region are often more prominent in their societies than is conveyed by the popular culture in the West. For example, Dr. Adely recounted, despite women appearing in U.S. media footage showing the uprisings in Tunisia and Egypt this year, commentators would often ask, “where are the women?” From her vantage point, being a witness to the rapid political developments in the Arab World from Amman, Jordan, she found her experience to negate much of the stereotypical rhetoric about the downtrodden Arab woman. In Jordan, she pointed out, there are many ways in which women are participating and advancing in civil society. Of note, is women’s involvement in labor and teachers’ unions. Also, she reported that more and more Jordanian men and women are achieving higher levels of education. And as much as Jordan has not itself been swept into the wave of the Arab Spring, Dr. Adely suggested that the expectations of a better life through achieving higher education coupled with the frustrations of not reaching it could create the kind of tension that would lead to eventual unrest.
Ms. Dina Guirguis focused her remarks on women in the Arab Spring in Egypt. She first asserted that the