Middle East and North Africa
Beijing+20 in Middle East and North Africa
"I support the uprising of women in the Arab world because for twenty years I was not allowed to feel the wind in my hair and on my skin," wrote Dana Bakdounis from Syria on her facebook page in 2012. Since then a lot has happened in the region, but the Arab Spring has not brought a real breakthrough for women's rights. 20 years after the World Conference on Women in Beijing the social position of women in the Middle East and North Africa is still contested.
Although the protests of 2011 and 2012 were significantly driven by young women, the ensuing political transition processes have not led to a sustainable strength of women's rights. In some cases the situation has even worsened, as in Egypt, where the number of female parliamentarians was lower after the revolution than under former President Mubarak. Particularly in the context of the conflicts in Syria and Iraq sexual violence against women and girls remains a major challenge that has taken on a new dimension in the prevailing situation of change. Only in Tunisia women have successfully fought for a better establishment and implementation of their rights, for example by the new electoral law that requires equal representation of men and women on the party lists. But even here the women's movement always has to avert attacks from conservative powers. Throughout the region Islamist forces are on the rise who want to curtail women's rights or prevent them from gaining more rights.