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  • Print publication year: 2019
  • Online publication date: August 2019

2 - Setting the Stage for Gender Reforms

from Part I - Comparing the Maghreb and the Middle East


This chapter explores several key factors which created the conditions for the women’s rights reforms that became evident after 2000 in the Maghreb. These include such factors as the French legacy; the adoption of unified legal systems after independence; the growing secular Amazigh influence; the particular appeal of Sufism to women; the impact of political opening, however minimal, in the region; and, finally, to a much lesser extent, attitudes toward gender equality and religiosity. In and of themselves, these factors do not explain the changes I am describing because many of them were present long before the changes, but they helped lay the groundwork for the reforms. Many of these factors are evident in countries that have not undergone change, which is why they do not suffice as explanations. Nevertheless, they played a facilitating role in making the reforms more likely. What is important here is not just the role of these factors, but the way in which they mattered.