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Citizenship, Civil Society and Women in the Arab Region
As issues of citizenship and civil society have taken center-stage in recent years – partly as a result of the challenges of globalization, and partly as a result of democratic struggles in various parts of the world – the question of women’s citizenship has assumed prominence. Some feminist scholars stress the longstanding struggle of women for rights and empowerment (Lister, 1997; Narayan, 1997; Yuval-Davis, 1999). Others argue that the autonomous, rights-bearing citizen is a Western construct, and that citizenship and civil society are patriarchal and capitalistic constructs (Pateman, 1988). Nevertheless, rights, citizenship, civil society, and democratization are increasingly in demand in developing countries, including the Arab world. For women, citizenship concerns social standing, political participation, and national membership. Empirically, women’s citizenship is reflected in their legal status, in access to employment and income, in the extent of their participation in formal politics, and in the formation of women’s organizations.
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