Women activists are fighting for protection against violence, equal rights within marriage and reproductive health rights across the Middle East and Northern Africa. However, the fight for gender equality is not always well received neither by patriarchal states nor conservative religious groups. By narrowing the space for civil society action through the use of different types of law, states intimidate, shut down and arrest women activists for fighting the good fight. Women activists also face backlash from conservative religious groups often portraying their agenda as Western and against Sharia. This is a global phenomenon, with local consequences. Despite often oppressive and dangerous contexts, women activists in the MENA region are able to make a difference. This breakfast forum discusses the range of laws used to oppress women activists in the Middle East and Northern Africa. How do women activists successfully maneuver in oppressive and dangerous contexts?


Samia Nihar, woman activist and researcher at Univeristy of Khartoum)
Liv Tønnessen, research director at CMI
Ingrid B. Rosland, project manager at the Rafto Foundation
Lisa-Marie Selvik, PhD candiate at the Department of Comparative Politics (UiB)

Liv Tønnessen

Director of Center on Law and Social Transformation and Senior Researcher