Women's Rights Reform in North African Constitutions: Plus ca change?
Women’s Rights Reform in North African Constitutions: Plus ça change?
Aili Mari Tripp
Abstract: Women’s rights have often been advanced in times of crisis, particularly during critical junctures, which in North African countries have occurred at crucial historical moments, such as gaining independence, after major conflict, after uprisings, and after revolution. This article examines how such critical junctures opened up possibilities for constitutional reforms of women’s rights in Arab countries. In particular, it looks at the impact of independence on the adoption of unified legal systems in the Maghreb and their impact on future women’s rights. It considers the Black Decade civil strife in Algeria (1991-2002) and how it led to the Algerian constitutional reforms in 2008 and more recently in 2016 and 2020 regarding women’s rights. It examines the impact of the Arab Spring on Moroccan, Tunisian, and Egyptian constitutional reform processes. Finally, it looks at the 2018-19 Sudanese revolution and the 2020 proposed constitution as it relates to women’s rights reforms. The article shows how these critical junctures allowed for women’s rights reforms by creating new opportunity structures like constitutional reform processes into which actors like women’s rights advocates could insert their demands. Constitutional reforms ultimately led to legislative reforms.

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