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Who Opened the Window? Women's Activism in Islamist Parties

Janine Astrid Clark and Jillian Schwedler
Comparative Politics
Vol. 35, No. 3 (Apr., 2003), pp. 293-312
DOI: 10.2307/4150178
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/4150178
Page Count: 20
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Since scans are not currently available to screen readers, please contact JSTOR User Support for access. We'll provide a PDF copy for your screen reader.
Who Opened the Window? Women's Activism in Islamist Parties
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Abstract

Islamist parties in Jordan and Yemen have become the most female-friendly in the Middle East since the initiation of political liberalization. Why has women's participation in two highly conservative Islamist parties increased so dramatically over a relatively short period of time? Expanded women's participation is not the result of a strong, articulated women's movement within each party or of the triumph of moderates over hardliners. Rather, Islamist women have found greater voice when male party leaders recognize the utility of mobilizing female voters and when tensions within the parties largely unrelated to women create space that women can seize. In particular, intraparty fissures along two issue axes-commitment to democratization and interpretation of sacred texts-create structural openings for Islamist women. While the openings often disappear as conflicts are resolved, women advance incrementally within the parties.

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