Women Leading Change in the Arab World
The "Arab Spring" has led to a revision of our picture of the Arab woman: they've been on the streets, playing an active role in the protests, demonstrating their strong commitment to democracy, human rights and rights for women – and that has surprised and impressed many onlookers. But now that the dictators have been overthrown and new political structures are in the process of being created, many fear that women will once more be pushed out of the public space. But their courageous stand in favour of justice has shown: women are by no means the weaker sex. Arab women won't give up, and they plan to carry their revolution into the future.
The young blogger Lina Ben Mhenni is seen by many as a key figure in the Tunisian revolution. Her blog "A Tunisian Girl" was one of the most important sources of information during the protests against the dictatorship of Zine El Abadine Ben Ali. In English, French and Arabic, Lina Ben Mhenni reported on the demonstrations, excoriated the security forces and their abuse of democracy activists, and thus gave the young protesters a voice which could be heard around the world. During the Tunisian R
Sihem Bensedrine, spokeswoman for the National Council for Freedom in Tunisia (CNLT), is one of the best-known opposition figures in Tunisia. She began her campaign for freedom of opinion and democracy in her home country while she was studying philosophy in France. She founded the feminist magazine "Nissa" and a newspaper, "Kalima", which was banned by the Ben Ali regime. She was forced into exile to escape repression following her critical publications, and the Hamburg Foundation for the Polit
Sondos Sulaiman has lived in exile in Germany for the last ten years. A member of the Syrian Alawite religious community, she was forced to leave her country as a result of pressure from the regime of President Bashar al-Assad over her involvement in the opposition Haddatha (Modernisation) Party and her tireless campaigning for press freedom and democratic change. Now she fights from Berlin, together with members of her party, for freedom, democracy and the equality of all Syrians. Even in Germa
"I only believe what I have seen with my own eyes." That's how the Syrian film-maker and journalist Samar Yazbek begins her latest book, "Cry for Freedom." For several months, she recorded the protests in her country, went out on to the streets and squares where the revolution was happening and spoke to demonstrators, dissidents just released from prison, but also members of the security forces. Eventually, she found herself in the sights of the Assad regime, and she fled to Paris. Now she tries
Tawakkol Karman is regarded as the "Mother of the Revolution" in Yemen. A courageous defender of freedom of expression and human rights, she stood at the front of the mass demonstrations against the veteran dictator, Ali Abdullah Saleh. The regime arrested her several times, but she wouldn't give in. With her "Tent of Dignity," which she set up in the centre of the capital Sanaa, she became an icon of peaceful protest. In October 2011 she was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in recognition of her "
The Libyan activist and doctor, Iman Bugaighis, was one of the first to go out on to the street in Benghazi to protest against the tyranny of the Libyan ruler, Moammar Gadhafi. She was spokeswoman for the Libyan Transformation Council until Gadhafi's overthrow. Now she campaigns for equal rights for women in her country. Iman Bugaighis supported the NATO intervention in the war: "The way the Arab world sees the West has changed since the intervention in Libya," she says, and she hopes for furthe
"Laïcité maintenant!" A religiously neutral state – that's the demand of the French-Moroccan journalist, Zineb El Rhazoui, especially when it comes to the rights of women in Morocco. She has been one of the leaders of the protests in her country since the start of the Arab revolution. She set up the "20th February Movement" with sympathisers. As a result of repeated death threats, she has had to flee to Belgium.
"Angry Arabiya": Zainab Al-Khawaja comes from a family of human rights activists and achieved world-wide fame with her tweets on the protests in Bahrain. Her ten-day hunger strike was a sign of silent resistance, intended to draw attention to the arrests of her father and her husband and to demand their immediate release. She was detained twice without charge after she had taken part in opposition demonstrations. She was only released in February 2012.
Some people already see Nawara Nagem, regarded by many as the face of the Egyptian revolution, as a future president. The journalist, blogger and activist was involved even before the revolution in campaigning for freedom of the press and freedom of expression. From the start of the protests in January 2011, she was out on Tahrir Square in Cairo. Her interviews with the Arabic news channel Al Jazeera gave her international recognition and changed not only the way in which the Arab revolution was
Bouthaina Kamel is known to many from Egyptian radio and television as a disputatious presenter and a sharp critic of the ruling Supreme Military Council. Now she wants to give a voice to the women of her country. The "journalist, mother and Egyptian presidential candidate," as she describes herself, is the first and only woman in Egypt ever to stand for the office. Bouthaina Kamel does not think the struggle is over yet, either for her or for her country. In an interview with Qantara.de, she sa
Israa Abdel Fattah is an Egyptian internet activist and co-founder of the "Youth Movement of the 6th April," a Facebook group which was set up in 2008 in support of a strike among the workers of the textile industry in Mahalla Al-Kubra. The group was revived during the nationwide protests which led to the fall of President Hosni Mubarak. Israa Abdel Fattah supported the revolution actively on the street and on the internet. She initiated resistance actions online and gave the latest news to Al J