Over at Muftah, the brilliant Sara Salem has a piece up on the critique directed towards the Muslim Brotherhood for their policies on women’s rights being decontextualised, dehistorisised and exploitative.
If the aim is to understand the situation of women in Egypt, how is it possible that so many analyses focus on religious and cultural problems (which are blamed on the Muslim Brotherhood or general “Islamic conservatism”) and ignore the role of neoliberal economic policies? It is impossible to discuss the role of women and poverty without addressing the effects capitalism and neoliberalism have had on the Egyptian economy. In times of economic crisis, it is often women who suffer the most. Alleviating economic inequality is rarely discussed, even though it would contribute largely to alleviating women’s suffering.
Selective outrage for the sake of personal or political motives is not going to help Egyptian women or the Egyptian women’s struggle. What is important is to understand the complex dynamics of how and why Egyptian women are suffering; not to make blanket statements about ideology. It is not enough to say that the Islamists are oppressing women without also explaining how, why and in what specific instances this is occurring.
In short, women’s bodies as battlegrounds, women’s rights as rhetoric and women’s empowerment as a political ploy.
And in many authoritarian regimes, gender rights were framed as gifts, bestowed by the benevolent father figure that is the head of state. Except these gifts can be granted or withdrawn, in accordance with the political climate.
Highly recommneded read!