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North African Feminism’s Growing Impact

Since the Arab Spring, feminist movements have transformed gender roles in Morocco, Algeria, and Tunisia, and secured hard-fought real-world gains for women and girls. While plenty of work remains to be done, the meaningful gains made over the past decade offer hope for further progress toward equality.

FEZ – North African feminists’ work has made significant contributions to improving the prospects for democratization in the region in recent years, particularly in Morocco. By promoting women’s empowerment through education, emancipation from social constraints, and knowledge production, feminists have kept progress alive, despite constant challenges and setbacks.

For example, while three Maghreb countries responded to the 2011 Arab Spring uprisings by enacting laws to increase women’s political representation, Tunisia has recently slipped back toward autocracy under the authoritarian regime of Kais Saied. As of 2022, representation of women in the region’s parliaments varied widely. In Tunisia, the share of women in the national assembly decreased to 16%, from 26% in 2014. In Algeria, women’s representation fell from 31% in 2017 to 8% in 2021. By contrast, women’s representation in Morocco’s parliament increased from 21% in 2016 to 24.3% in 2021.

The environment for women’s participation in the region varies in other ways as well. In Algeria, women’s organizations that advocate social and cultural rights tend to enjoy relatively more autonomy and liberty than those focusing on political and civil rights, but even the former group is hindered by limits on freedom of expression and poor funding.

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