Among the various regions struggling to further advance women’s rights, the Middle East stands out as one of the least progressive. Whether in terms of economic integration, political empowerment, education or social and personal rights, women across the region wage a constant battle against challenges that combine to entrench gender discrimination and inequality.
Our Special Report on Women in the Middle East explores key aspects of this struggle. Laila El Baradei and Ghada Barsoum capture the complex processes that affect the political empowerment and economic integration of women in Egypt and the Arab World, in their respective essays “Are Egyptian Women Empowered?” and “Educated, But Will She Work?” In “Iranian Women, Work, and the Gender Regime,” Valentine M. Moghadam sheds new light on how women in Iran are advancing their rights in the face of a neo-patriarchal system that has prevailed since the Islamic revolution. The issue of women’s sexual and social advancement is addressed in Odharnait Ansbro’s essay, “The Long Struggle for Women’s Rights.” We are also honored to feature short interviews with some of the leading voices and advocates for women’s rights in the region including Nawal El Saadawi, Rothna Begum and Blerta Aliko.
This issue of the Cairo Review also coincides with Egyptian President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi election to a second four-year term. To explore the challenges confronting Egypt, we offer a set of four essays on Egypt’s foreign policy, regional strategy, and domestic politics in our special section: Egypt After 2018. Mohamed Kamal analyzes Cairo’s struggles to manage the Middle East’s interlocking crises and the country’s national security. Alaa Elhadidi discusses how foreign policy priorities are likely to change during President El-Sisi’s second term. Abdel Monem Said Aly explores the enduring challenges posed by the Muslim Brotherhood. And finally, Dina Shehata places the current political moment in the context of Egypt’s ruling political ideologies since the 1952 revolution.
Finally, Kishore Mahbubani and Kristen Tang address the changing role of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, and how ASEAN’s often underrated success has provided an anchor of stability in an area characterized by competition, and ethnic and religious diversity.