Reflections on Arab Women’s Gendered Activisms and Resistances Seven Years after the Arab Spring
Six years after the eruption of the so-called “Arab Spring” uprisings, a wide array of outcomes unfolded in the six countries which witnessed these waves of revolt and tides of change. Likewise, different outcomes also unfolded for Arab women who played instrumental and significant roles in paving the way for, instigating, and supporting these movements. This paper sheds light on different examples of Arab women’s activisms and resistances in a number of “post-Arab Spring” countries, in an effort to answer the following important questions: How did the conditions of these countries and their own path to democratization and political reform influence the political, social and legal conditions of women, as well as the level, form, and intensity of their activism and resistance efforts, both online and offline? How and why did these multiple forms of online and offline activism and resistance vary, not just across different countries, but also across different phases, namely: before, during, and after the “Arab Spring” uprisings? How did Arab women engage in the three simultaneous, parallel struggles in the political, social, and legal spheres in these countries, and what tools did they use to achieve their goals? In exploring these varied aspects, the paper will highlight the voices of Arab women journalists, activists, and professionals who participated in these movements in different capacities, both inside their own home countries and from the diaspora, in an effort to unpack their rich experiences, varied ideologies, multiple struggles, divergent journeys, as well as their challenges, hopes, and aspirations. By doing so, we can begin to better understand their complex, multidimensional lived realities and multifaceted roles and identities, which are as evolving, dynamic, and in flux as their own volatile region.
Dr. Sahar Khamis is an Associate Professor in the Department of Communication at the University of Maryland, College Park. She is an expert on Arab and Muslim media, and the former Head of the Mass Communication and Information Science Department in Qatar University. Dr. Khamis holds a Ph.D. in Mass Media and Cultural Studies from the University of Manchester in England. She is a former Mellon Islamic Studies Initiative Visiting Professor at the University of Chicago. She is the co-author of the books: “Islam Dot Com: Contemporary Islamic Discourses in Cyberspace” (Palgrave Macmillan, 2009) and “Egyptian Revolution 2.0: Political Blogging, Civic Engagement and Citizen Journalism” (Palgrave Macmillan, 2013). Additionally, she authored and co-authored numerous book chapters, journal articles and conference papers, regionally and internationally, in both English and Arabic. She is the recipient of a number of prestigious academic and professional awards, as well as a member of the editorial boards of several journals in the field of communication, in general, and the field of Arab and Muslim media, in particular. Dr. Khamis is a media commentator and analyst, a public speaker, a human rights commissioner in the Human Rights Commission in Montgomery County, Maryland, and a radio host, who presents a monthly radio show on “U.S. Arab Radio” (the first Arab-American radio station broadcasting in the U.S. and Canada).