Challenging Inequality

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I don’t know how recent this is, but Sameena Nazir of Freedom House has written a very thorough overview of the bleak state of women’s rights in the Middle East and North Africa that’s worth a look.

As one might expect, repressive laws are generally the biggest problem in the region; on this score, it looks like Morocco rates the most liberal country, especially after passing its new family code early last year, but laws usually aren’t enough. As Nazir points out, “Most countries [have] guarantees of equal rights, [but] in no case are these guarantees effectively enforced by state authorities.” And there are plenty of other ways in which laws can fall short of guaranteeing equality:

Many women suffer from a lack of awareness of their legal rights under the country’s family law. For example, under Muslim family law, the marriage contract generally contains a section that allows each spouse to stipulate in writing his or her specific rights in the marriage. This feature gives women the theoretical ability to achieve equal rights within the marriage. In practice, however, this feature of the marriage contract is seldom utilized, either due to illiteracy or lack of familiarity with the available legal options or due to patriarchal social traditions under which it is the prerogative of the bride’s male guardians to finalize the conditions of the marriage contract. Governments in most countries do not engage in public education campaigns on women’s rights in the marriage.

Definitely worth reading the whole thing.

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is the first thing despots go after. An unwavering commitment to it is probably what draws you to Mother Jones' journalism. And as we're seeing in the US and the world around, authoritarians seek to poison the discourse and the way we relate to each other because they can't stand people coming together around a shared sense of the truth—it's a huge threat to them.

Which is also a pretty great way to describe Mother Jones' mission: People coming together around the truth to hold power accountable.

And right now, we need to raise about $400,000 from our online readers over the next two months to hit our annual goal and make good on that mission. Read more about the information war we find ourselves in and how people-powered, independent reporting can and must rise to the challenge—and please support our team's truth-telling journalism with a donation if you can right now.

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