SOAS University of London

School of Law

Gender, Law and Society in The Middle East and North Africa

Module Code:
Module Not Running 2021/2022
FHEQ Level:
Taught in:
Term 2

This half module aims to examine the substantive bodies of law and procedure and the legal systems in operation in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region in modern times, in particular regard to their treatment of and interaction with gender, women's rights and normative claims and practices in society. Further context is given by consideration of the increasing reach of international legal instruments governing a broad spectrum of legal activities implicated in the study of gender, law and society. Theoretical framing includes consideration of the extent and implications of state formulations of legal or normative pluralism, and the discourses on and of legal reform as they relate in particular to women and the law and as they are formulated by the state itself or social movements or groups with varying socio-political and economic objectives or underpinnings. The primary areas of study include family law and criminal law. 

Objectives and learning outcomes of the module

  • demonstrate an understanding of the themes, issues and debates around women, gender and the law in MENA states
  • compare different approaches to law reform in MENA states in regard to women and gender
  • analyse debates around and the impact of engagement with international law and mechanisms in MENA states
  • critically assess the materials and themes explored in the module
  • assess the significance of law for civil society in the MENA region.

Method of assessment

  • Coursework: 100% (5000 words)

Suggested reading

  • Al-Sharmani, Mulki (ed). Feminist Activism, Women's Rights and Legal Reform. Zee Books 2013.
  • Dupret, Baudouin et al (eds). Legal Pluralism in the Arab World. (Kluwer 1999)
  • Mir-Hosseini, Ziba et al (eds). Gender and Equality in Muslim Family Law. Justice and Ethics in the Islamic Legal Tradition. IB Tauris 2013.
  • Welchman, Lynn and Sara Hossain (eds). 'Honour': crimes, paradigms and violence against women. (Zed Books 2005)


Important notice regarding changes to programmes and modules