This is a call for participants at a panel at this year's MESA annual conference (on November 17-20 in Denver, Colorado). I would appreciate that those interested send me a short proposal of their paper by February 10.
The panel will address to what extent family law reforms in the MENA region have led to political change and whether they have affected state-society relations on the formal and informal levels, and gender relations more specifically. The aim is to overcome the paradigm that sees women’s groups – secular feminists and Islamist women – and the state in strictly “divisional” terms – i.e. the women’s groups being somehow in clear opposition to each other and to the state. Attention will be given to cooperation between formal and informal actors within the family law reform process and the question of who is allowed to participate in this process and subsequently able to shape the outcome of it.
How have CEDAW and the international discourse on women's rights shaped the way in which these different groups try to advance their claims and their ability to influence the process? Moreover, one of the less researched questions about family law reforms and the heightened presence of women's rights discourse is whether these processes have affected social reality and, if yes, in what ways. Has the state ensured the application of the law? Are laws truly ameliorating women's legal status and creating gender equality, or does a careful reading of the text of the law reveal reaffirmation of patriarchal family and gender relations?
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