Women and Stability in Northern Africa and the Middle East

As a part of their national security strategy, the Obama administration advocates for supporting the rights of women and girls globally because, “experience shows that countries are more peaceful and prosperous when women are accorded full and equal rights and opportunity.”[1]  President Obama and Secretary Clinton have made empowering women through economic, political, and educational opportunity a priority for the United States and recognize the necessity of these ideals to ensure stability and growth in developing states.

The involvement of women in civil society is becoming increasingly important to understand as new state governments in MENA continue to redefine themselves.  The people of MENA through these uprisings are advocating for ideals of liberty, economic freedom, and transparency–but will these principles be applied equally in this region?  Many Arab women are extremely involved in these uprisings and especially in grass roots movements.  In an area where women are often viewed as being repressed, perhaps this new wave of liberty and freedom also means greater opportunity and involvement for women.  In fact, does the success of democratic ideals in this region correlate directly with the education and inclusion of women in the political realm?  And, if so, then what is the most effective method of seeking out this environment of empowerment and inclusion.

The U.S. state department has for years supported various programs of encouraging entrepreneurship through micro-credits and other methods for women in areas like Iraq, Afghanistan, and most recently Pakistan.  However, perhaps this strategy is not as effective given our end goal of stability and security in the region.  It’s important to consider how Arab women view themselves and their role as well.  Acknowledging that Arab women is a generalized term and many women in the middle east come from different lifestyles and want different things, the goal is to find a strategy that can positively effect most women in the middle east.  A strategy focusing on education and political involvement.


[1] U.S. National Security Strategy, May 2010. P. 38

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About brittany

I am a senior at the U.S. Coast Guard Academy. Majoring in Government with a specialty in international affairs and am researching the empowerment of women in girls in civil society in the Middle East and Northern Africa. I also play soccer for the Academy, am President of the Women's Leadership Council, and Vice-Chair of our Model UN team.
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