Politics & Gender

Debate: Oil, Islam, and Women

Kinship, Islam, or Oil: Culprits of Gender Inequality?

Mounira M. Charrada1

a1 University of Texas at Austin

Gender inequality in the Muslim world has become the object of high drama on the international scene. Ghostlike images of women wrapped in burqas and begging in the streets of Afghan cities swept television screens in the United States following 9/11. The number of articles on Muslim women in English newspapers has increased exponentially in the last few years. Although the popular press and the media continue to emphasize seclusion and subordination in their description of Muslim women, scholars have written extensively and persuasively to debunk the myth of the Muslim woman as a victim, passively suffering the subordination imposed on her. Starting in the 1970s and continuing to the present, a rich literature has argued that as elsewhere in the world, Muslim women have not only resisted subordination but have actively shaped their own destiny (e.g., work by Leila Ahmed [1992], Nadje Al-Ali and Nicola Pratt [2008, 2009], Elizabeth Fernea [1998], Nikki Keddie [2002, 2007, 2008], and Fatima Sadiqi and Moha Ennaji [forthcoming]).

Mounira M. Charrad is Associate Professor of Sociology at the University of Texas in Austin. Her book, States and Women's Rights: The Making of Postcolonial Tunisia, Algeria and Morocco won the Distinguished Award for the Best Book in Sociology from the American Sociological Association, and the Best Book on Politics and History Greenstone Award from the American Political Science Association. Her research interests include women's rights, law, colonialism, state formation, and conceptions of modernity.