Seeking Legitimacy: Why Arab Autocracies Adopt Women’s Rights, Aili Mari Tripp
The image of autocratic leaders surrounded by women from their entourage may be one of the most popular political clichés in the Middle East. Autocracies in the Middle East have often strategically embraced the agenda of women’s rights and used it as a tool to advance their regimes’ narrow self-interests. In Seeking Legitimacy: Why Arab Autocracies Adopt Women’s Rights, Aili Mari Tripp eloquently explains why and how autocratic regimes adopt women’s rights reforms. By analyzing the experiences of the Maghreb countries of Algeria, Morocco, and Tunisia and comparing them with their Middle Eastern counterparts, Tripp highlights the symbolic and instrumental functions of women’s rights reforms across different political projects.
The study offers rich analysis of legal documents, statistical data, and in-depth interviews with activists, experts, and public officials in the three countries. The analysis highlights that legislative and constitutional reforms in the Maghreb countries have been more far-reaching than those in the rest of the Middle East. The variation in women’s rights reforms, Tripp argues, is not simply a function of religion or different regional attitudes toward religiosity (p. 262). While religion does matter as part of the ongoing political contestation, autocratic regimes in t
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