SOAS University of London

Centre for Gender Studies

Afaf Jabiri

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Centre for Gender Studies

Research Associate

Dr Afaf Jabiri
Thesis title:
Women’s Rights in Postcolonial States: A case study of the Institution of Wilaya over women in Jordan and Yemen
Internal Supervisors

PhD Research

This research is an attempt to explain the different contexts and politics that women in the Arab region are affected by in order to contribute to the understanding of the realities through which Arab women have shaped their strategies. It defines Wilaya over (male guardianship), women as a form of oppression that has led and legitimised discriminatory practices against women. It, therefore, aims to contribute to the Arab women’s literature of how the concept of Wilaya, which either is totally absent from the feminists’ research or just tackled briefly, is conceptualizing women and their rights in the Arab region.  The goal is to uncover the hidden concepts that matter for women through discussing of Wilaya from the perspectives of women in Jordan and Yemen.

The focus in this research is to examine the concept of Wilaya over women vis-à-vis postcolonial states’ classification of women’s rights. It questions the extent to which Wilaya over women generates the conceptual legal and social frameworks of women’s rights in the Arab region. While the few scholars who have studied Wilaya have mainly focused on the limitations that Wilaya places on women in relation to marriage  this research takes the discussion further to demonstrate the intertwining of Wilaya with a wide range of discriminatory laws and practices, such as citizenship laws, women’s freedom of movement, and violence against women. The research assumption is that states’ structuring and defining of what Wilaya means, the criteria set for males to be the guardians of females, the concept of “giving women in marriage,” have all constituted important bases for gender differences, and inequality before the law.  A woman as a person is accordingly defined through her guardian and not her individual self, which devalues the legal personality of women and their social and political capacities.