circa 1900-1950, Arab countries

At the beginning of the 20th century, Arab nationalism rose with the goals of eliminating the influence of the West in the Arab world. Because Arab nationalism identified women as the “bearers of the nation”, anti-colonial movements gradually became a platform that provided girls with a potential new way of publicly expressing themselves, even though this way was limited and not free.

In traditional Islamic societies, girls only took on a reproductive role as care-takers in a family. But anti-colonial movements recognized girls as home-front warriors. In other words, girlhood somewhat broke away from the traditional hideout from public gaze, and it gained increased meaning and social value with girls in anti-colonial movements. In Iraq, the youth movement al-Futuwwa saw girls as future patriotic mothers and caregivers. Using al-Futuwwa as a public platform, more and more girls participated in national, political discussion and made their voice heard. In Egypt, the political participation of women from all walks of life had affected the changes in Egypt’s political situation to a certain extent. By participating in demonstrations, strikes and even assassinations, Egyptian girls supported the Egyptian nationalist party, the Wafd Party, and the country’s independence movement.

As the society started to support their political role, Arab girls, too, shouldered national responsibility in this time period. After having achieved independence, Arab girls would step into the next period of their journey: fighting for their rights as citizens and developing the new Islamic feminism.

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