Women & Political Upheaval


Pt 3: Women & Political Upheaval - Women have played prominent roles in the protests that are sweeping across the Middle East and North Africa. This has happened before. But in the past, the gains that women thought they were making have largely evaporated. We gather three women who have spent decades trying to change that and ask if this time might be different.


Women on The Current

This is a day when many in the media turn a critical eye to the gender gap. So we thought it only fair to turn that same spotlight on ourselves and let you know how well-represented women are on this program.

Last May, a project called Informed Opinions set out to answer that. The project's goal is to bridge the gender gap in public commentary and that includes The Current. So over the course of a few weeks, they monitored our performance. Their finding -- 31 per cent of the interviews we did over that period were with women.

Now, that wouldn't be bad if women made up 31 per cent of the population. But they don't. They make up 52 percent. So Informed Opinion's findings were a real wake up call. We put a woman - producer Jennifer Moroz - on the case to find how far we've come since then.

Women & Political Upheaval

We started this segment with a clip from Mona Seif. She was heavily involved in the protests that brought down former Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak. And in the days leading up to his resignation, she told us she really believed the revolt would lead to a significant improvement in the lives of Egyptian women.

But since then, there have been reports that the situation for Egyptian women has regressed to the way it used to be. So we checked in again with Mona Seif. She's still in Tahrir Square. But she's feeling a little less optimistic.

Women have often played leading roles in pushing for change in the Arab and Muslim worlds. But when the dust settles, the gains they think they have made are often elusive. For their thoughts on why that is and whether things may be different this time ... we were joined by three women who have spent decades trying to improve the position of women in their societies.

Before the Iranian revolution, Mahnaz Afkhami was Iran's Minister for Women's Affairs. She's now the Founder and President of the Women's Learning Partnership. She was in Washington, D.C.

Asma Khader is a former Jordanian minister of culture. She's now the Secretary General of the Jordanian National Commission for Women. She was in Amman, Jordan.

And Leila Ahmed is an Egyptian-born professor at Harvard University's Divinity School. Her research focuses on women in Islam. And her book, The Quiet Revolution: The Veil's Resurgence From the Middle East to America will be published next month. She was in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

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