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Arab Spring, Islamist Summer … Feminist Fall?

25 Oct 2011



Nine months after the overthrow of the former president, Tunisia has voted in the first open and fair election in the region. The Islamist party al-Nahda has claimed victory by a fairly large margin, assuring the party a strong say in future political processes. What will this victory mean for Tunisia’s historical legacy of women’s rights?

In a three-part article published on openDemocracy, UNRISD Research Analyst Kristine Goulding examines the transformation of gender relations from the Arab Spring, throughout the Islamist summer, and into the feminist fall.

Goulding warns against framing Islamism in direct opposition to women's rights. Instead, the Arab Spring should be seen as an opportunity to redefine the roles of both women and the Islamist party al-Nahda: the two cannot be seen as mutually exclusive. In the final part of the article, Goulding argues that if a "feminist fall" does not come to fruition, it will not be only because of an Islamist agenda or the failures of the interim government and its policies. The failure will come from the citizens of Tunisia, who have shown democratically that feminism is not decisively on their agenda.