Women’s Digital Activism and the Struggle for Democracy in the Middle East


Ruba Ali Al-Hassani

Postdoctoral Research Fellow, Department of Politics, Philosophy and Religion

Lancaster University

Nahed Eltantawy

Associate Dean and Professor of Journalism

Nido R. Qubein School of Communication, High Point University

Loubna Skalli Hanna

Visiting Professor

University of California, Washington Center

Tamara Kharroub

Deputy Executive Director & Senior Fellow

Arab Center Washington DC

Rafiah Al Talei

Editor-in-Chief, Middle East Program

Carnegie Endowment for International Peace

About the Webinar

On April 11, 2023, Arab Center Washington DC (ACW) organized a webinar titled, “Women’s Digital Activism and the Struggle for Democracy in the Middle East.” Panelists were Ruba Ali Al-Hassani, Postdoctoral Research Fellow in the Department of Politics, Philosophy and Religion at Lancaster University; Rafiah Al Talei, Editor-In-Chief for the Middle East Program at Carnegie Endowment for International Peace; Nahed Eltantawy, Associate Dean and Professor of Journalism at the Nido R. Qubein School of Communication, High Point University; and Loubna Skalli Hanna, Visiting Professor at the University of California, Washington Center. Tamara Kharroub, Deputy Executive Director and Senior Fellow at ACW, moderated the event.

Loubna Skalli Hanna discussed the scope and goals of the forthcoming volume that she and Nahed Eltantawy edited, the Palgrave Handbook of Gender, Media and Communication in the Middle East and North Africa, which addresses gender, the media and information ecosystem, and areas of women’s activism, all in a dynamic environment of change and resistance.

Nahed Eltantawy also spoke about the forthcoming volume, focusing on gender-based violence and highlighting its intersection with social media use, including issues of digital intimacy, social media influencers, LGTBQ rights, sexual harassment, and gender activism.

Rafiah Al Talei concentrated her remarks on the issue of women in Oman and the rest of the Gulf, exploring how both traditional and social media affect women’s participation in politics and activism, including an examination of the impact of gender roles and restrictive laws and media.

Ruba Ali Al-Hassani detailed her research on women’s participation in Iraq’s Tishreen protest movement, explicating how women were and are dealing with gendered isolation, sectarianization, and institutionalized discrimination.

Tamara Kharroub presented her research on Palestinian women’s rights activism against gender-based violence in the context of colonialism and military occupation, focusing specifically on the women’s rights movement Tal’at. Kharroub used this case study to discuss the benefits and shortcomings of social media activism, and to analyze how media, gendered spaces, and politics intersect to achieve social and political change.

Featured image credit: Shutterstock/newafrica


Tuesday April 11, 2023