Islam started with strong
• Khadija: the first muslim
• Fatima: the fighter
• Aisha: the mother of all
Kahina was a Berber queen
from 7th century
• A religious and military leader who led indigenous
resistance to Arab Islamic expansion in Northwest
Africa, the region then known as Numidia.
• She died around the end of the 7th century in modern-
• Also called Daya,Dehiya, Dihya.
Huda Shaarawi was one of the first
outspoken female activists in Egypt
• 1879 – 1947: Pioneering Egyptian feminist leader,
nationalist, and founder of the Egyptian Feminist
• She openly challenged the traditional perceptions of
womenin Egyptian culture as well as the lack of
women’s participation in public and political spheres.
• In 1919 Huda organized an anti-British demonstration
which brought Egyptian womenout the streets in a
show of both women’s solidarity and nationalist protest
against the colonial existence.
• Sha`arawi made a decision to stop wearing her veil in
public after her husband's death in 1922.
Doria Chafic sets up Bint El
Nil, Nile’s daughter in Egypt
• She organized a demonstration in 1951 of 1.500
women in front of the Parlament asking
deputies to grant women their rights.
• The following week, the Assembly grants
women the right to vote.
• 1956: Unique party of Nasser accedes to
power: Emprisons Dora Chafic.
• She will commit suicide in 1975.
Nawal Saadaoui, "the Simone de
Beauvoir of the Arab World"
• Nawal El Saadawi is
an Egyptian feminist writer, activist,
physician and psychiatrist. She has written
many books on the subject of women in
Islam, paying particular attention to the
practice of female genital mutilation in her
• In 1972 she published Woman and
Sex ( ةأﺮﻤﻟاﺲﻨﺠﻟاو ), confronting and
contextualising various aggressions
perpetrated against women's bodies,
including female circumcision.
And many more…
• In Iran, there was Taj Al-Saltana--her autobiography, which was
written around 1914, is the earliest known example of Iranian's
women's autobiography. Her writings revealed, among other things,
the importance of the role played by women in the harem in
influencing the state of affairs. Later she helped to establish the
"Society for the Emancipation of Women". Her writings proposed a
• In Iraq, Laila of Shaiban-Bakr, a poet from the 8th century, was
known for her rejection of a centralized state in favor of an
egalitarian stystem of government. In pre-Islamic times, women
participated in tribal warfare on the Arabian peninsula. With the
advent of Islam, women did not relinquishh their place on the
battlefield. She was an early female warrior.
Newsweek magazine named Ms Eltahawy one
of its "150 Fearless Women of 2012"
• Mona Eltahawy is an award-winning columnist
and international public speaker on Arab and
Muslim issues and global feminism. She is based
in Cairo and New York City.
• She wrote the polemic essay:
Why do they hate us?
Joumana Haddad is
a Lebanese poet, translator, journalist and
women's rights activist
• She has been selected as one of the world’s 100 most powerful
Arab women for three years in a row by Arabian Business Magazine
for her cultural and social activism.
• She is founder of Jasad, a quarterly Arabic-language magazine.
Fadi Zaghmout’s novel The Bride of Amman is a sharp and
sensitive exposé of Jordanian society through the voices of young
people constrained by conservatism and blatant discrimination.
Or the Iraki Akdass al-
• …who is the first woman to recite the Quran on CD,
lives in Paris for 40 years and wishes to see women
imams or muezzins.
Ayaan Hirsi Ali, a Dutch-American activist,
author, and former politician of Somali origin
• She is a leading opponent of female genital mutilation,
and calls for a reformation of Islam.
• She is supportive of women's rights and is an atheist.
• Her latest book was released in 2015 and is called:
Heretic: Why Islam Needs a Reformation Now.
The Irani Chahdortt Djavann
• The writer is extremely critical of muslim integrism, and “thosewho wish to
impose their totalitarian vision of a political and proselyt islam.”
• She considers the critic of religions as non negotiable and invites the
immense majority of French silent Muslims to demonstrate against this
Zahra' Langhi is the cofounder of Libyan Women’s Platform for
Peace (LWPP), a movement advocating for women’s socio-
political empowerment and peace-building
Murabit founded The Voice of
Libyan Women in August 2011
Salwa Bughaighis was a Libyan
human rights and political activist
• She was assassinated in Benghazi, Libya on 25 June
Lina Ben Mhenni is a Tunisian
who blogs as A Tunisian Girl
• She rose to prominence during the Tunisian revolution of
2011. She was nominated for the Nobel peace prize.
• She is currently threatened by the islamists in her
Amira Yahyaoui created an NGO, Al Bawsala,
which is monitoring the constitutional
assembly and advocating for human rights.
• In Tunisia, 27-year-old blogger Amira Yahyaoui
has been a tireless advocate for freedom of
expressionfor over a decade. She comes from a
family of human rights activists; when she was
16, her father, a judge, was forced from his job
for speaking out against then-President Ben Ali.
• She also launched the Tunisian Parliament
Monitor to protect the free expressionof the
Tunisian people. As she says, “We have this
huge responsibilityto show to the world, and to
the Arab world, that we can succeed. Even if we
are focusing in Tunisia, we are doing it for the
Hooria Mashhour Yemen’s
Human rights minister
• A veteran human rights activist, Hooria
Mashhour became Yemen’s first post-revolution
human rights minister in 2012. She’s also a
former member of the Joint Meeting Parties, but
now defines herself as an independent.
Hala Shukralah is the first woman to
head a political party in Egypt
• Women and Coptic Christians (who form around 10% of the otherwise
Muslim population) have historically been largely marginalised from politics.
• But Shukrallah's election hints that this may slowly be starting to change,
partly thanks to a shift in national consciousnesscreated by the 2011
revolution,which encouraged people to challenge social structures.
• “Here and there, you can find similar signs. In December, leftist physician
Mona Mina became the first woman to be elected head of Egypt's
influential doctors' syndicate, a group led for years by male conservative
TED Fellow Shereen El Feki works on issues related to health and
social welfare in the Arab region -- including intimate attitudes
toward sexual (and political) freedoms, as explored in her new
book, Sex and the Citadel.
• In Flaubert's time, and in the age of the
Prophet himself, both Westerners and Arabs
saw Arabic culture as unabashedly sensual
and sexual, and not un-Islamic for that.
• In contrast, Christian Europe stood for
rejection and repression of the sexual joys of
this life for the glory of the afterlife.
Forugh Farrokhzad was an Iranian poet and film director.
Forugh Farrokhzad is arguablyone of Iran's most influential
female poets of the 20th century.She was a controversial
modernistpoetand an iconoclast
Fadwa Tuqan (1917 in Nablus – 2003),was well
known for her representationsof resistance to
Israeli occupation in contemporary Arabpoetry.
Djamila Bouhired is an Algerian militant. Bouhired is a
nationalistwho opposedthe French colonialrule of
Algeria. She was raised in a middle-class family,having
attended a French school.
Soumaya Naamane Guessous is a Moroccan
sociologist,a so-called "champion"of women's rights and
columnist.She is best known as authorof the book Au-
delà de toute pudeur,first published in 1988,aboutthe
sexuallife of Moroccan women.
Pınar Selek is a Turkish sociologist,feminist,and author.She is
known for her work on the rights of vulnerablecommunities in
Turkey,including women,the poor, street children,sexual
minorities, and Kurdish communities.
Maryam Mirzakhaniis an Iranian mathematician,the first
woman to ever win the Fields Medal– known as the "Nobel
Prize of mathematics" – in recognition of her contributions
to the understanding of the symmetry of curved surfaces.
Ali ibn nasr el katib
Encyclopedia of Pleasure
• The Encyclopedia of Pleasure is the earliest
extant Arabic erotic work, written in the 10th-
century by the medieval Arab writer Ali ibn Nasr al-
Katib. 43 chapters of all possible sexual
• The Encyclopedia of Pleasure contains the
book Jawami' al-ladhdha, which
described erotic gay and lesbian love.
• It quotes and refers to several named and
unnamed poets, writers, philosophers and
• One of the most famous and more frequently cited
writers was Abu Nuwas. Some consider him to be
"the father of Arab erotic poetry".
Sculpture: Ghada Amer
Tahar Haddad writes “The
Tunisian woman” in 1930
• Haddad was a feminist. In the 1930 book Our
Women in the Shari 'a and Society he
advocated for expanded rights for women and
said that the interpretations of Islam at the
time inhibited women.
• He explains how nothing in the sharia is
opposed to the access of women to
edication, personal freedom and participation
to public life.
• His throughts will be at the base of the « Code
du Statut Personnel » (CSP) of 1956 which
grants women exceptional rights in the Arab
Fethi Benslama, Tunisian writer,
analyses the link between islam and
Malek Chebel is an
Algerian philosopher and anthropologist of religions
• He is known for his reflections about Islam, its culture, its history, intellectual life, and
• He is also famous for his public positions for a liberal Islam, and for its reform.
• He reminds us how women like Khadidja at the originof Islam were independent and
how the integral veil appeared in Saudi Arabia in the XIXe century under the wahhabi
influence: ”If a woman has to be veiled to be muslim, what happens with the millions
of unveiled women during 14 centuries?”
• The Quran does not say anything on virginity(6 of the 10 wives of the prophet were
not virgins) and this custom has been adopted from the traditional partiarchal beduin
Islamic feminism is a form
of feminism concerned with the role
of women in Islam
• It aims for the full equality of all Muslims,regardless of gender, in public
and private life. Islamic feminists advocate women's rights, gender equality,
and social justice groundedin an Islamic framework.
• Although rooted in Islam, the movement's pioneers have also
utilised secular, Western, or otherwise non-Muslimfeminist discourses, and
have recognized the role of Islamic feminism as part of an integrated global
• Advocates of the movement seek to highlight the deeply rooted teachings
of equality in the religion and to encourage a questioning of
the patriarchal interpretation of Islamic teaching through
the Quran, Hadith (sayings of Muhammad) and sharia (law) towards the
creation of a more equal and just society.
In the 1990s, the term "Islamic feminism"
made its appearance in different parts of
the world and in various contexts
• 'Liberated' Muslim females
• In 1992, Shahla Sherkat, an Iranian who took part in the revolution of 1979, published the first issue of a feminist
magazine, "Zanan" (meaning women in Farsi). The magazine is now banned.
• In 1996, a Saudi woman named Mai Yamani published "Feminism and Islam," a book that went down in history.
• In Turkey, academics believe a new type of feminism has emerged that is nourished by faith. Meanwhile in the
West, female activists freed themselves from secular feminism and jointly asserted their female rights as Muslims
of foreign origin.
• Determined to obtain full equality without abandoning their faith, many Muslim women — who are no
longer satisfied with traditional Islamic discourse — have begun to dismantle the edifice of religious
• According to those who follow the Islamic feminist movement, female Muslims see two things standing in the
way of their emancipation. On the one hand, they find a conservative Islam that prevents women from having
access to religious knowledge and hampers the achievement of the equality prescribed by the Quran. On the
other, there is what they call "colonial feminism," which was born in the North and was laced with Orientalism.
This type of feminism dictates to the women of the South the manners and framework of their emancipation,
arguing that it is impossible to be both subject to God and freed from the power of men. “These are two
essentialist discourses, which, ironically, come together and share the same definition of Islam and the same
definition of feminism,” Ali jokes.
Moroccan Fatima Mernissi was largely
concerned with Islam and women's roles in it
Leila Ahmed (born 1940) is an Egyptian American writer
on Islam and Islamic feminism
• In her seminal work, Womenand Gender in Islam (1992), Ahmed argues that the
oppressive practices to which womenin the Middle East are subjected are caused
by the prevalence of patriarchal interpretations of Islam rather than Islam itself.
• Islamic doctrine developed within an androcentric, misogynist society, that
of Abbasid Iraq, the customs of which were largely inherited from the Sasanian
Empire after its conquest.
• According to her, veiling was prevalent in pre-islamic society to differenciate veiled
free womenfrom non veiled slaves.
• Colonial feminism was a Western discourse of dominance which, "introduced the
notion that an intrinsic connection existed between the issue of culture and the
status of women, and … that progress for womencould be achieved only through
abandoning the native culture."
Zahra Ali, a 26-year-old French-Iranian woman,
is working on a thesis dealing with the
women's movement in Iraq since 2003
Amina Wadud is an American scholar of Islam with a
progressive focus on Qur'an exegesis
• Wadud decided to lead Friday prayers (salat) for
a congregationin the United States,breaking
with Islamic laws, which allows only male imams
(prayer leaders)in mixed-gendercongregations.
• On Friday 18 March 2005,Wadud acted as imam
for a congregationof about60 women and 40
men seated together,withoutany gender
separation.The callto prayer was given by
anotherwoman,Suheyla El-Attar.It was
sponsored by the Muslim Women's Freedom
Tour, underthe leadership ofAsra Nomani,by
the website "Muslim WakeUp!," and by members
of the ProgressiveMuslim Union.
Fatma Emam is a Nubian Egyptian
woman, who reread the Islamic
sculptures from feminist point of view.
• In addition to her feminist advocacy and academic
activism, she is interested in studying the race and
color dynamics in Egypt and the effect of forced
displacement on the Nubian community.
• Finally, she is a pan African and she is working to
empathize that Egypt is multiple faced and being
African is indivisible part of the Egyptian identity.
• She thus started by embracing her Nubian name
Musawah ('equality' in Arabic) is a global
movement for equality and justice in the
• It was launched in February 2009 at a Global Meeting in Kuala
Lumpur, Malaysia attended by over 250 women and men from
some 50 countries from around the globe.
• Musawah is pluralistic and inclusive, bringing together NGOs,
activists, scholars, legal practitioners, policy makers and grassroots
women and men from around the world.
Dr. Heba Kotb is an Egyptian
certified sex therapist who
reconciles sex and religion
• The first licensed sexologist in the country, Kotb bases her methods
on the teachings of the Qur'an, which she says encourages strong
marital life including healthy sexual relationships between husband
And who is shifting the
A few initiatives to follow
Smashing stereotypes with
Palestinian female car racers
The projectaims to empowerPalestiniansto document
human rights violations and to provide evidence both to the
public and to Israeli authorities.
Teaching women how to document
human rights violations
Using social media to bypass
traditional structures and hierarchies
Launching the first female
recruitment portal in Saudi Arabia
Portraying new game heroes
Set in a post-apocalyptic world, the heroines of
Saudi Girls Revolution are a badass group of
Saudi women who come together in a
Rising out of this brutality the women build
and race suped-up motorcycles.
Their mission; to fight the evil tyrannicalrulers
of the corrupted Arabian Empire…
Have you heard of any badass
project in the region?
Keep us posted!