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As early as 1899, Qasim Amin already wrote the book The Liberation of Women which espoused the education and liberation of Arab women…
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1. How has Middle Eastern feminism developed in the region historically and what progress have Middle Eastern feminists made?  The feminism movement in the Middle East already begun in the Middle age albeit it was not well documented compared to the rest of the world. As early as 1899, Qasim Amin already wrote the book The Liberation of Women which espoused the education and liberation of Arab women as essential to strengthen and emancipate the Egyptian nation from British colonial rule. It was continued by Sha’rawi who advocated pan-Arab feminism who presented an Arab nationalist ideology as a core to feminism and opposed strongly to other feminist key issues such as the issue of female genital mutilation, around which Arab feminists today organize, including the insurance of fair divorce laws, proper health care f or women, family planning education and others. The veil which was also symbolic of Arab women’s meekness was symbolically thrown by Sharawi into the sea as a symbolic protest of how women are treated.
To date, there are women NGOs who are taking on increasingly important responsibilities in the context of state withdrawal from the provision of social services and in the context of a global trend in the expansion of civil society.
2. What surprised you about the writings of the Middle Eastern women assigned for this week? 
I was surprised to realize that there was and still is a feminist movement in the Middle East and started as early as 1800s. What is more surprising is that its feminist movement father Qasim Amin is actually a man. It is like Abe Lincoln who is a Caucasian and abrogated the slavery against the Negroes. I was also surprised that the veil’s interpretation vary and is not accepted by all Arab women.
3. What role did the non-aligned and secular movements play in the Middle East- how did the West influence on one hand, and fail the secular movement on the other hand? Why has secularism in the region, with the exception of Turkey, failed in the region?
The non-aligned and secular movements in the Middle East played a crucial role today in promoting women issues such as passage and enforcement of fair divorce laws, proper health care for women, family planning education and others.
It is important to note that the key figures of Middle East feminist movement are educated and well travelled in the West who saw the disparity between the Western woman and a Middle Eastern woman who are secondary to the preferential treatment of men and thus asserted that women should have greater participation and rights in society.
The secular movement in the Middle East has failed because of the nature of their government where religion is at its core. Read More
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