Legal reforms across the Middle East as it concerns women?s rights (Threat Assessment)

Legal reforms across the Middle East as it concerns women?s rights (Threat Assessment)
RELEVANT QUESTIONS TO CONSIDER:

What is the nature of the threat you have chosen?
How large a problem is this for the United States (or the country in question if you are not in fact starting from an American perspective)?
Is it a problem for other countries?
Is it problematic for these countries in the same ways or is there variation? What kind?
What are the consequences to the U.S. and others if this threat is left unchecked?
What consequences has the threat already produced on American/country-in-question/global society?
Has this threat evolved or changed over time or is it relatively constant? If it has evolved or changed, exactly how has that change happened and what political consequences have emerged from them?
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Below is a copy paper and different areas of interest..Policy Generation is the final piece of the paper that must tie all the parts together..
Be SURE to tie more explicitly all of this literature discussion and overview INTO your main thesis, ie, show the reader how and where YOUR argument will fall – with whom do you agree? with whom do you disagree? what are you adding to? what are you tearing down? You show you know what the literature is BUT also show clearly where you fall within it and why!
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Part (1)
Legal reforms across the Middle East as it concerns women?s rights (Threat Assessment)

Although societies in the Middle East (as well as North Africa) are increasingly undertaking vigorous steps to enact political and social change, gender inequality remains a particularly formidable obstacle. Studies have shown that substantial deficits in women rights exist in almost all nations in the Middle East and North Africa (Moghadam, 2009). However, there have been notable progress achieved over the last one decade, especially in political and economic rights for women. Despite these findings, it is worth noting that the region remains largely one of the areas in the world where women are still considered a lesser gender, with various social laws and traditions discriminating against them(Kelly, 2009). The purpose of this paper is to provide an in depth assessment of threats facing women rights in the middle east, with special reference to legal reforms across the region as it concerns women and women rights.
In a democratic society, gender equality and the empowerment of the gender considered to be weak are two crucial aspects to democracy. According to political scholars, democracy is much about the rights of the citizens, their participation and inclusion as it is about freedom of speech and expression, elections, political parties as well as checks and balances. The degree or quality of democracy present in a given society is determined not only by the forms or types of institutions, but also by the degree of freedom of participation in these institutions provided to the different social groups. Therefore, gender democracy matters significantly when considering the quality of democracy in a given society. Although most nations in the Arab world have increasingly become democratic societies, it is worth noting that gender democratization has been lagging, with women being left out of the institutions. Cultural factors and traditions have contributed to this phenomenon, with men feeling that their identities will be under threat if women are equally included in democratization. As such, the controversy between the roles that men and women should play has become a major topic of debate in democratization of women.
Threats to the State of Women Rights in the Middle East
Although the Middle East is not the only region where women face social, political and economic inequalities, the gap between the rights of women and those of their male counterparts is both substantial and clear. For the last 30 years, several Middle East nations have performed poorly in protecting women from discrimination. Several reports indicate that women in the region continue to face hurdles in their societies, which bars them from enjoying equal status to those given to males. Most nations in the region, including Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Yemen, Iraq, Iran and several others, have shown evidence of how women continue to experience systematic discriminations in social customs as well as in laws. It is evident that deeply entrenched social norms in most societies in the region, combined with discriminatory and traditional interpretations of the Islamic Laws, have been the major causes of discriminations against women in all sectors of the societies.For instance, social norms and conservative interpretation of the religious laws have caused significantunderrepresentation of women in various social, political and economic positions. In fact, in some nations, women are almost completely absent from certain positions such as in the judiciary, legislature and security. Most visibly, women in several nations in the Middle East face gender-based discrimination in personal status laws. The laws regulate issues related to marriage, child custody, divorce, inheritance as well as other aspects of social and family life. For instance, traditional laws, customs and conservative interpretation of Islamic Laws tend to declare that the husband is the head and leader of the family, which gives men the power over their families, including their wives? rights to socialize, access education, travel, own property or control their social welfare (Kelly &Breslin, 2011). In some instances, husbands are given the right to demand total obedience from their wives. Moreover, this is one of the major causes of domestic violence against women, which remains a major problem in the region.
However, it is worth noting that individual countries have been taking important steps towards improving the status of women over the last one decade. For instance, Kuwaiti legislature carried out a number of legal reforms in 2005 with an aim of improving its image in respect to human rights. For example, new laws were enacted to provide women with equal and same political rights as those given to men, which gave them the right to vote and run for political positions and offices, including the national assembly and local government. In the United Arab Emirates, legal reforms were made between 2000 and 2008, which culminated into women being appointed as judges and magistrates by 2008 (Kelly, 2009). Similarly, women judges were appointed in Bahrain by the end of 2006 after a period of vigorous legal reforms that saw women gain the right to seek appointment in various political, social and financial positions in their country. Moreover, UAE and Qatar have made several legal steps towards improving the status of women. For instance, both countries have allowed women to become more visible participants of almost all aspects of public life, especially in business and education. Prior to 2003, codifications of family laws were made based on the judge?s interpretation of the Sharia Law. However, legal reforms were implemented in order to remove such codification, which brought about a universal interpretation of the law. Judges are no longer expected to give their rulings based on their personal interpretations of the Islamic laws. Women have also gained more freedom to travel by their own and independent of their husbands or other male accompanying them. Previously, some countries like Qatar and Bahrain had strict laws that required women to seek permission from a male guardian when trying to obtain passports. Both countries have so far abolished these laws, which have seen women gain more freedom of travelling.
There have been an increasing political will to engage the national leadership on the discussion of issues relating women rights in some countries such as Qatar and UAE.Positive changes have resulted from these efforts as well as from the work of activists and advocacy of powerful and well-connected individual women such as Moza, the wife of Qatar?s Emir.
In some countries such as Bahrain, Kuwait and Saudi Arabia, strong grassroots efforts of women and rights activists have combined with the growing presence of women in education sector, workplace and political life, which has produced intensive legal reforms.Women have increasingly gained access to education, which has further allowed them to demand for equal rights and consideration as full and equal members of their respective societies (Moghadam, 2009).
However, it is evident that in almost all the nations in the region, progress in legal reforms have mainly been hindered by lack of democratic institutions, free and independent judicial systems, freedom of association as well as freedom of assembly and mingling. For instance, countries like Saudi Arabia, UAE, Oman and Qatar still have excessively restrictive laws and rules that control the formation of social organizations and unions (Nazir &Tomppert, 2010). These laws are primarily discriminating against women, especially by restricting them from assembling to discuss certain social, family and political issues. Women are unable to advocate effectively or form organizations for lobbing for their rights. Secondly, most governments in the Middle East bar researchers to examine the status of human rights, especially in relation to the rights of women. Authorities also continue to control social information from researchers as well as journalists, which makes it difficult to assess the status of women rights in most countries. This is especially the case in countries like Bahrain, Yemen, Saudi Arabia, Yemen and Qatar.
The risk of abuse at the workplace is another important threat facing women in the Middle East. It is worth noting that in certain countries like Saudi Arabia, UAE, Qatar and Bahrain, there are large populations of immigrant workers, mainly from India, central Asia, China and Africa. Cases of immigrant women being physically, sexually and psychologically abused are common in most of these nations. However, legal reforms are yet to be achieved to protect immigrant women from such abuse.
Conclusion
This discussion has shown that there are several threats to women rights in the Middle East. It has revealed that interpretation of the customary laws and Sharia has been conservative, which discriminates against women. Secondly, it has been shown that women in these nations face problems lobbying for their rights because certain laws prohibit them from assembly, socialization and mingling. Moreover, it is clear that authorities have continued to hinder research and examination of the status of women rights in some countries. Finally, lack of democratization in national and regional institutions as well as the judicial system has continued to affect reforms required to provide women with equal rights.
 
Bibliography
Kelly, S. (2009). Recent gains and new opportunities for women?s rights in the Gulf Arab states. New York: Freedom House.
Kelly, S., &Breslin. J. (2011). Women’s Rights in the Middle East and North Africa: Progress Amid Resistance. New York: Rowman and Littlefield.
Moghadam, V. M. (2009). From Patriarchy to Empowerment: Women’s Participation, Movements, and Rights. Syracuse University press.
Nazir, S., &Tomppert, L. (2010). Women’s Rights in the Middle East and North Africa: Citizenship and Justice. New York: Rowman and Littlefield.

Part (2)(Conflict Resolution)
Introduction
The concern for women?s rights in Gulf States has been a contentious issue for many years. It should be noted that majority of the Gulf States abide by sharia law. Sharia law does not recognize women as equals with men in any legal provision. Saudi Arabia is one of the Gulf States in the Middle East where women rights have been suppressed for years. For example, women were not allowed to vote until recently. It was also rare and unacceptable for women in Saudi Arabia to hold offices of higher stature such as judiciary and legislature (King & Hill, 1997). The position of a woman in a typical Saudi Arabian society was that of domestic chores and upbringing of children (King & Hill, 1997). It is no wonder to find that women are not highly educated like men (Minces & Pallis, 1982). Early marriages and women abuses are part of the culture in Saudi Arabia. However, with the recent initiatives by human rights watchdogs, Saudi Arabia has made tremendous progress in observing human rights. This research paper focuses on the current policy on women in Saudi Arabia. The research also examines the changes made on the policy over the years and the effectiveness of the same. The paper also examines the short-term and long-term ramifications of the policy.
Current Women Policy in Saudi Arabia
For many years, the Saudi Arabian legal provision does not allow women to function independently. In this regard, women are limited to have certain rights and roles. The guardianship system is one aspect that does not allow women to conduct themselves independently. The guardianship system is deeply rooted in the sharia law (Otto, 2010). The guardianship system advocates for women to be under customary care of their male counterparts. This system lawfully ensures that husbands, fathers and sons control and permit women to conduct themselves within the requirements of Islamic law. An example of the guardianship in action is when a woman seeks permission from her husband to enroll in school. The husband becomes the guardian to the woman.
Currently, women have been accorded rights to act independently following the abolishment of the guardianship system in year 2009 (Kechichian, 2012). The United Nations recommendations for the country to allow women to have rights have since been essential in promoting women?s rights in Saudi Arabia. However, such has only been implemented in small phases.
Another tremendous progress on women?s policy in Saudi Arabia is their inclusion in matters of law. Initially, women were not allowed to work as lawyers in Saudi Arabia. From the year 2006, women were allowed to attend law schools in Saudi Arabia (Wynbrandt, 2010). However, they were not allowed to practice law. It is important to note that women still face hostilities from the Saudi Arabian judicial system. In recent years, the judiciary is slowly accepting women representation as lawyers in courts. However, this is only limited to representation of fellow females in the courts. In addition, women lawyers are now working in law firms in government departments as legal advisors. Currently, the government has also allowed women lawyers to argue specific cases in courts. Such cases include child-custody, divorce and spouse abuse cases. However, such is made possible only in special courts made for women, which are still under development.
Another women policy development in Saudi Arabia is women participation in politics (Al-Rasheed, 2013). From 25th September 2011, the Saudi Arabian government under the leadership of King Abdullah announced changes that oversaw women running for political offices. Today, women in Saudi Arabia can vie for both municipal and Shura councils. King Abdullah has also made changes that oversaw women gain voting rights accorded to men. These changes have seen the abolishment of the guardianship system take effect.
King Abdullah reforms on women rights have seen legal reforms that allow women to seek jobs and change same jobs without permission from their male counterparts. It is in this spirit that King Abdullah has even appointed women in cabinet positions. An example of such reform is that a woman was appointed as deputy education minister. Other notable examples of women taking higher positions in major sectors and government departments is the appointment of a woman to head the chamber of commerce and industry (CCI).
The growing involvement of women in public life and activism has been growing in Saudi Arabia in recent years. This has been made possible by the changing legal reforms that want to empower women in the society. For example, women are getting involved in businesses in the country without permission from their male counterparts.
As indicated earlier, women in Saudi Arabia are not allowed to drive on their own. This policy has changed in recent times. In fact, women are now allowed to ride bikes, but only in the accompaniment of a male. Moreover, bikes are only to be ridden in designated areas.
Changes in Women Policy
From the above women policies, it is evident that most of these changes occurred between the year 2006 and early 2013. For example, the policy that allows women to run for municipality offices has been in place since September 2011. The ministry of labor has made changes that see women work in the industrial and business sector since the year 2008. Women participation in matters of law was initiated in the year 2006, when the government allowed women to study law. By the late 2011, women had already started to practice law in specific legal matters. The abolishment of the guardianship system by the year 2009 has been integral in major legal reforms in women policy. Between late 2012 and early 2013, women are now acting independently without involvement of a guardian. The increase of women involvement in matters of law, business and legislature by the year 2013 is an indication that at least women policies have been changing in the last decade. For the past 10 years, the improvement on women rights has been tremendous. By early 2013, women can now ride in bikes and soon will drive cars.
Effectiveness of the Current Policy
The current women policy in Saudi Arabia is sufficiently enough at the moment. According to Kelly & Breslin (2010), the effectiveness of the policy can be reflected by the observance of women rights in the country. Women engagement in sports in recent times in schools and other sports arenas like Olympics are an indication that women policies are becoming effective. Other elements that show effectiveness in women policy change is the increasing non-discrimination and access to justice rates. Over the past 10 years, more economy rights have been accorded to women. This has seen women getting equal opportunities in the business and industrial sector. Other rights championed by changes in women policy include social, cultural and political rights. The involvement of women rights activist in the past years is an indication that women policy is taking shape in Saudi Arabia and in the Middle East countries.
Short-term and Long-term Ramifications
The short-term ramifications of the change in women policy in Saudi Arabia is the immediate opposition by religious extremists. There is also a concern that immediate allies and close countries will try to change their foreign policy towards Saudi Arabia. Such can be evidenced from countries such as Iran, Iraq and Kuwait. These countries are extremely religious conservatives and would not like to be associated with a country that compromises sharia law. Great opposition by Saudi Arabia men and religious elders will be a matter of concern in implementing women policy changes.
Long-term ramifications for the change in women policies are that the entire sharia law will need to be changed. In recent times, some extremists have waged a campaign to revise the guardianship system. This has made it possible for women to advocate for the return of the law in some quotas. A new element of torture against immigrant women is taking shape in Saudi Arabia. This is made possible by lack of laws that protect immigrant women in Saudi Arabia.
Allies and Adversaries for Women Policy in Saudi Arabia
King Abdullah has been on the forefront in making legal reforms that concern women policy. King Abdulla?s reform records have constantly been supported by reformists and liberal thinkers. This support has also been supported by the United Nations and most of the western countries including the United States. However, legal reforms on women policy have been adversely opposed by Islamic extremists in Saudi Arabia and neighboring Islamic states.
Bibliography
Al-Rasheed, M. (2013). A most masculine state: Gender, politics and religion in Saudi Arabia. Cambridge, CB: Cambridge University Press.
Kechichian, J. (2012). Legal and political reforms in Saudi Arabia. New York, NY: Routledge.
Kelly, S. & Breslin, J. (2010). Women?s rights in the Middle East and North Africa: Progress amid resistance. Lanham, MD: Rowman & Littlefield Publishers.
King, E., M. & Hill, M., A. (1997). Women?s education in developing countries: Barriers, benefits and policies. Washington, DC: World Bank Publications.
Minces, J. & Pallis, M. (1982). The house of obedience: Women in Arab society. London, LND: Zed Press.
Otto, J., M. (2010). Sharia incorporated: A comparative overview of the legal systems of twelve Muslim countries in past and present. Amsterdam, Amstr: Amsterdam University Press.
Wynbrandt, J. (2010). A brief history of Saudi Arabia. New York, NY: Infobase Publishing.

Part (3)
Legal reforms across the Middle East as it concerns women?s rights
Introduction
The legal reforms in the Gulf States regarding women?s rights are a topic that must embrace, accommodate and accept some facts. Whilst the rest of the world could be said to have gained considerable steps as far as women?s rights are concerned, the Arab world still treat the women more or less like second class citizens. The Leaders in Arabic world; which extends beyond the Gulf States, have always been reluctant to put in place the necessary legal frame works that would guarantee women their rights (Al-Rasheed, 2013). In the Middle East, women issues are all put under the Islamic family law, which deals with such issues as marriage, divorce, the custody of children and inheritance. These are all enshrined in the Sharia law. Hence all women?s life is regulated and governed by what the Sharia law has laid down. Thus, women have no freedom to do just anything; including what to wear and even how to wear it. They are more of domestic chatter than human beings. Thus, the legal reforms on the rights of women in the Gulf States should be appreciated with the above discourse in mind. The discourse will look at some countries in the Gulf States and North Africa.
Human Rights Treaties
The agitation for the advancement of women rights has taken centre stage for over the last thirty five years. Many people have joined the concerted effort to get the world to grant women a modicum of some rights, through the enactment of Legislations as well as the drafting and implementation of the various multilateral international treaties. There are agitated for by various women?s rights campaigners. Such treaties are, for example, the International Covenant on Civil and political Rights, and the Convention on the Elimination of all forms of Discrimination against women. This is at the international level, and the debate gets more intense than at the regional or local level. In the west, and especially in the United State of America and Europe, these have been achieved, but not much has been realized in the Gulf States.
Among the Islamic states, and especially the Gulf States, the gains made in the rest of the world on women?s rights are yet to be realized. However, in spite of resistance from the conservatives, the effort has not been in vain especially in such countries as Saudi Arabia, Iran and Morocco.
Many Islamic states follow a legal system made up of multiple sources of legal authority and guidance. However, by and large, Sharia law has always been and remains the most significant source of legal authority in all matters to do with women, especially as regards women rights. It is observed that even in the Islamic states which otherwise rely on a secular legal system; they always maintain family law under Sharia. Family law carries most of the legal regulations that impede women rights.
Women Rights in the Middle East
In law and women, in the Middle East, Wynbrandt asserts that women have been subjected to a plethora of laws such as customary laws, Islamic laws and some versions of imported European laws, to subjugate and liberate them to varying degrees, in various Gulf States countries. This means that each country has its own version of legal status and reforms (2010). Further observation made is that the feminist organizations available to agitate for the registration and improvement of the women rights have been few. The contention is that any improvement attempt on women rights has been driven by the desire of the political elite to modernize their societies. This has also been done only where the legal reforms would enhance and promote the achievement of the elite?s agenda.

Women Rights in Morocco
There have been some countries that have been more progressive albeit slow, in empowering women, by enhancing their rights through registration and other forms of legalizing the rights of women. This is done with a view of giving women a better life. Research shows that, within the countries of the Gulf States and North Africa, Moroccan women have over time enjoyed reasonably strong women?s rights. Tunisia?s women also enjoy rights that are similar, if not better than those in Morocco.
These two countries have had a complex history because they have had the influence of myriads of foreign cultures. These ranges from European, Arabic, African, Islamic to Christian cultures. This exposure allows these countries to have better or greater tolerance to women?s rights. In 2000 for instance, statistics show that women made twenty percent of the judges and had elected two women to parliament by 1994, as regards Morocco. In women rights terms, this was a milestone. This of course does not rule out the fact that these countries still have conservatives who resist the enactment of such Legislations.
The Case of Human Rights in Saudi Arabia
The kingdom of Saudi Arabia was highly conservative, but with time, modernity is slowly being embraced. Previously women had no access to education, and if they wanted to go school, they had to seek permission from their husbands. This was based on the deep rooted guardianship system, governed by the Sharia law (Otto, 2010). The women were supposed to be always under the guardianship of their male companions. This meant that by law, the men; husbands, fathers and sons, had absolute authority over the conduct of women in public and private settings (Kechichian, 2012). The King, over time, has allowed the enactment of laws that allow women to go to school and even study law. Today the women of Saudi Arabia are allowed to drive, albeit only in the company of a male member, and within some restricted areas. In their circumstances, this is a bit of progress towards their emancipation.
The Case of Human Rights in Iran
Iran, on the other hand, according to (Ghazoll, 2004), has had tremendous achievement within the Gulf States countries, as regards legal empowerment of women. He delves on the gain brought about by the revolution, indicating that the revolution that removed the Shah from power brought what he calls ?contradictory and often unintended? impact. This is because the revolution opened new opportunities, but at the same time, ?instituted repressive controls over women? (Ghazoll, 2004). The revolution, on the other hand, gave birth to a different woman, a scenario that had not been anticipated. This was achieved through giving women almost equal education opportunities to men since the Ayatollah needed the support of the women in the revolution. The tattered economy had also pushed women to the labor market to supplement the family income. According to Ghazoll (2004), the government also opened opportunities for women to work in the ministries as well as advance their education to tertiary levels. Today women outnumber men in the tertiary institutions (Ghazoll, 2004).
The other Gulf States countries such as Pakistan and Afghanistan still stigmatize their women. The gains registered by Iran, and to some extent Iraq, are a mileage in the two countries. Kelly and Breslin (2010) observe that, the gains made by which ever country in the Gulf States, are still fragile and are always at risk of getting undone. The rise of the Islamic fundamentalist has the capacity of reversing the legal rights that had been previously gained. They go on to mention that the Islamic Revolutions taking place in the Arab world have taken a conservative dimension, relegating women to the traditional roles they had been emancipated from to some extent. The fundamentalists? desire is to impose the infamous Sharia law. This is seen in Egypt, Iran, Syria and Iraq where wars are being fought between the Islamists and the progressive forces that support the emancipation of women among other reasons (Kelly & Breslin, 2010).
This Strategic Comparative Analysis has only touched on a few of the obvious Gulf States countries that have registered some attempt, to respond to the desire of their women population to claim their rights and emancipate themselves from the bondage of an excessively patriarchy society (Otto, 2010).
Conclusion
In summary, the struggle for the emancipation of women in the Gulf States has had some progress, albeit slow in some countries while others are yet to address the issue. The risk of losing the gains is real. The nature of the ruling of these States is extremely shaky currently especially with the Islamic Fundamentalists gaining ground in these countries. The political uprising being experienced in North Africa and parts of the Gulf States present a threat to any progress that has so far been made (Kelly & Breslin, 2010).

Bibliography
Al-Rasheed, M. (2013). A most masculine state: Gender, politics and religion in Saudi Arabia. Cambridge, CB: Cambridge University Press.
Ghazoll, M. (2004). Robbed of simple pleasures: Women’s rights in Iran. Retrieved from iranian.com
Kechichian, J. (2012). Legal and political reforms in Saudi Arabia. New York, NY: Routledge.
Kelly, S. & Breslin, J. (2010). Women?s rights in the Middle East and North Africa: Progress amid resistance. Lanham, MD: Rowman & Littlefield Publishers.
Otto, J.M. (2010). Sharia incorporated: A comparative overview of the legal systems of twelve Muslim countries in the past and present. Amsterdam, Amstr: Amsterdam University Press.
Wynbrandt, J. (2010). A brief history of Saudi Arabia. New York, NY: InfoBase Publishing.

Part (4)

Legal Reforms across The Middle East as it concerns Women?s Rights (Conflict Resolution) 2
According to scholars, democracy in the Middle East is not always about the rights of citizens as envisaged in the western world. The rights of women in the Middle East and parts of Africa continue to be a subject of concern to many (Kelly & Breslin (2010). Women in these countries do not have the right to take part in politics nor do they have rights to freedom of speech or association. They are not involved in making any family or national decisions. Democracy, in all nation states, is determined by the types of institutions put in place and the degree of freedom to participate in these institutions created, guaranteed and provided to the various social groups and individuals living within these states (Kechichian, 2012). Therefore, gender rights matters significantly when considering the quality of democracy in a given nation or society. In the Arab world, gender inequality continues to be a thorny issue and a threat to democracy. Women have always been treated and socialized through the eyes of Sharia law and Islamic laws (Kechichian, 2012). These are conservative laws that govern the way the people socialize. However, the position of women in Islamic law is that of a chattel; a person with no rights but subjected to the guidance of their men folk. These laws dictate how the women dress, whom they can socialize with and with whose guidance. Suffice to say that the Islamic laws have been seriously discriminative against women. In the Middle East, women issues are all put governed by the Islamic family law. This law enshrined in the Sharia, deals with such issues as marriage, divorce, the custody of children and inheritance (Otto, 2010). That is to say, all women?s life is regulated and governed by what the Sharia law has laid down. As the world registers significant development in liberating the women folk, the Middle East countries have lagged far behind. Various reports indicate that women in the region continue to face hurdles in their societies, which bars them from enjoying fundamental rights as human beings. Most nations in the region, including Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Yemen, Iraq, Iran as well as the North African countries, it has been reported, continue to subject women to systematic discriminations (Otto 2010). Such countries as Pakistan and Afghanistan cannot countenance women getting an education. There are a lot of documented materials discussing the threat of subjugation of the Arab women. Such literature puts a case of wonton need to liberate the Arab women from exploitation by the men enabling them live freely and contribute to the national well being of their nation states (Al-Rasheed, 2013).
The agitation and advocacy for the advancement of women rights has gained momentum over the last thirty five years. Many people have joined the war to liberate the marginalized women in the Arabic peninsula. This war has taken the agitation, legislation and drafting and implementation of various multilateral international treaties. The International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, and the Convention on the Elimination of all forms of Discrimination against women are widely quoted as having influenced the legal reforms in various Arabic states such as Saudi Arabia Qatar and Morocco (Kechichian, 2012).
There are women rights activists, lobby groups and even such organization like the United Nations, who have actively agitated for reforms in the Arab world. They have called for the changing of the conservative and discriminative Sharia laws with minimum success (Kelly 2009). The United Nation has enacted treaties towards the emancipation of women and especially the women in the Arabic world.
However, the threat to women?s rights and their liberation has, in the recent past, been confronted by the various countries albeit grudgingly slow. It is worth observing that individual countries have taken important steps towards improving the status of women over the last one decade (Al-Rasheed, 2013). In the year 2005, Kuwait legislature carried out a number of legal reforms with the aim of improving its image with respect to human rights. They enacted new laws to enable women participate in politics. Thus, women in Kuwait have the right to vote and can run for a political office, including local government and the national assembly. The United Arab Emirates has over time put in place legal reforms geared towards empowering the women (Al-Rasheed, 2013). Women were allowed to attend schools and even study law. Initially the women trained in law could not practice law except in such matters that affect families like divorce and children custody. Between 2000 and 2008, the reforms were accelerated, culminating in the appointment of women magistrates and judges (Kelly, 2009). A similar trend was observed in Bahrain. By 2006, after vigorous legal reforms, the women got the right to seek appointment to various political, social and financial positions. Some got appointed to the Judiciary. United Arab Emirate and Qatar have registered several legal milestones towards improving the status of women. For instance, women in both countries have become more visible participants of almost all aspects of public life, especially in business and education. Legal reforms have done away with the use of Sharia law and embraced the universal interpretation of the law (Kelly, 2009).
Women have also gained more freedom to travel on their own without supervision by husbands or a male relative. Previously, women were required to seek the permission of the husband or a male guardian in order to get a passport. These laws have been abolished both in United Arab Emirate and Qatar. It is essential to note that there is an increased political will to engage the national leadership on the debate on women rights (Moghadam, 2009).
There are positive achievements with regard to the emancipation and empowering of women in these states. This is the work of women rights activists, lobby groups, as well as influential individuals like the wife of the Emir of Qatar, Ms Moza. Women have gained access to education which is an empowering powerful tool. This has enhanced their awareness to their rights due to exposure to the wider world (Moghadam, 2009).
The threat against women rights cuts across the Arabic world. As observed earlier individual countries have responded to the issue of women rights with several levels of success being achieved (Nazir & Tomppert, 2010). The greatest drawback in most countries is the resistance to reform by traditionalists and the ultra conservatives who cannot countenance liberated womenfolk all in the name of religion. However, the case of Morocco and Tunisia gives all women rights advocates hope. These two countries have enacted wide ranging legal reforms that have liberated their women. These legislations were done with the aim of giving the women a better life and active contribution to the welfare of the nations (Nazir & Tomppert, 2010). In 2000 for instance, women made up to twenty percent of judges in Morocco. Statistics show that as early as 1994, Morocco had two women sitting in parliament. In women?s rights circles, this was a milestone (Nazir & Tomppert, 2010).
In Saudi Arabia, women are increasingly getting involved in public life and activism without fear of persecution. This has been made possible by the legal reforms championed by king Abdullah and supported by reform minded people and lobby groups including the United Nation. Women in Saudi Arabia can now go to school, ride bicycles, drive cars, engage in business and seek employment in the various government institutions. They do not have to get men to act as their guardians anymore. The guardianship law was abolished by 2009. All these legal milestones have been achieved in the last ten years (Otto, 2010).
It must be noted that much as these reforms to fight the threat posed by the subjugation of women?s rights have been achieved. This is largely a result of the political class attempting to modernize their societies, and not because of the conviction that it is wrong to deny women their rights. It has been observed that the legal reforms to give women better rights happen only where they promote the achievement of the political elite?s agenda. Thus, the political elites? move to allow the enactment of legal reforms towards women rights is driven by selfish motives. However, it is positive progress because the women?s rights campaigners will build on the little that has been achieved (Otto, 2010).
The gains so far achieved on the women?s rights front in the Middle East still face the risk of being undone by the traditionalist, conservatives and Muslim fundamentalists. These groups are violently opposed to women gaining any freedom or being accorded any rights that would change their conservative status quo. The rise of such groups as the Al Qaeda, the Taliban?s in Pakistan and Afghanistan poses a great threat to women advancement. They have very conservative and retrogressive ideas based on the outdated Sharia law (Moghadam, 2009).
In conclusion, the threat to the achievement of women rights in the Middle East exists. However, over the last ten years, significant gains have been registered in several Middle East countries. Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates, Qatar and Morocco in Africa have been at the fore front in enacting the necessary legislation to grant women the rights they have agitated for years (Moghadam, 2009). There have been some gains in other countries but not as significant as the advocates of women?s right would have wished. The United Nations and the League of Arab States should take a more proactive role in championing the rights of women not only in the Middle East but the entire Arab world and indeed the whole world (Kechichian, 2012).
Bibliography
Al-Rasheed, M. (2013). A most masculine state: Gender, politics and religion in Saudi Arabia. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Kechichian, J. (2012). Legal and political reforms in Saudi Arabia. New York, NY: Routledge.
Kelly, S. & Breslin, J. (2010). Women?s rights in the Middle East and North Africa:Progress amid resistance. New York: Rowman and Littlefield Publishers.
Moghadam, V. M. (2009). From Patriarchy to Empowerment: Women’s Participation, Movements, and Rights. Syracuse: Syracuse University press.
Nazir, S. & Tomppert, L. (2010). Women’s Rights in the Middle East and North Africa: Citizenship and Justice. New York: Rowman and Littlefield.
Otto M. (2010). Sharia incorporated: A comparative overview of the legal systems of twelve Muslim countries in the past and present. Amsterdam, Amstr: Amsterdam University Press.

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