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Women In Nationalist Movements

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748 words
Social Issues

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In the recent studies of women's emancipation from a male dominated society, the emergence of was evident. Nationalist movements gave women an outlet to begin their fight for freedom. In contrast to the hopes of women, nationalism wasn't able to help the growth of feminism. Once women began to join revolutions to help heighten their country's nationalism, they began to realize that although their work in the movement was recognized as beneficial, it did not allow them to focus on their own rights. In Turkey, Iran, Egypt, Algeria and Palestine women were fighting in nationalist revolutions in hopes that they too would benefit from the huge change. The advancements that nationalism provided failed to acknowledge the changes that women were hoping for. Once women began to fight for their own concerns, the strong backing that the nationalist parties had provided were quickly disintegrated.
Nationalism is the fight one country has to gain independence from another country. In many cases, this struggle happened in countries that practiced colonialism. This is because there was an economic imbalance between the more powerful country and the country where raw materials were being taken from. The subordinate countries in this case began their quest for industrial status. Many of these countries modeled their goals after countries that were successful. Successful in this respect meant that there was a strong national identity. Nationalism also gave the country an opening to define their culture, economics, and status.
Women in many countries thought that the nationalist movement would provide them with the opportunity to advance in the public sphere. In Turkey, Mustapha Kemal recognized the 'courage and militancy of Turkish women during the Balkan wars and World War I.' (Kemal article) This time allowed women to obtain new jobs, such as nurses and factory workers. Algeria also had a similar emergence of women into the public sphere. During the Algerian War women who fought in the war were known as moudjahidines. These female fighters were willing to take any risks to advance the nationalism of their state. In one particular example, Farida 'gave a gun to a brother who had an action to carry out. He was wounded. [She] carried him through the city to [their] house.' (Bouatta, 27) The courage that these women had showed their excitement and commitment to not only being in the public sphere, but helping their nation.
Women's roles in revolutions varied drastically. Palestinian women were responsible for raising children with a nationalistic pride. Although this did not require entering the public sphere, men still regarded this job as very important. If women were not breeding children who felt strongly toward the nation, the entire battle would come to an end. The militancy in Algeria was heavily looked upon as heroic. At the end of the first World War, Egyptians demanded independence which allowed women to be apart of the political struggle. One woman in particular went by the name of Huda. 'Huda refused to sacrifice women's liberation for male political purposes.' (Badran, 129) Once women began to be killed by British bullets, Huda began to organize a movement of women from all classes. She was able to organize boycotts and educate women about how to get involved. Although she was not as militant as women in Algeria, she helped women organize the only women's organization in Egypt, the Wafdist Women's Central Committee. All of these women helped propel nationalist thinking to feministic thinking as well.
Once women began to enter the public sphere and were represented in the nationalist movement, they were greeted with mixed emotions from men. In Egypt during the early 1900s, more veiled women began to enter the public sphere. 'Middle and upper class women began to go out of their homes more often, and men reacted to this greater presence of women in the streets by ignoring, protecting, provoking or propositioning them.' (Baron, 378) Since women began to leave their homes, they were challenging the traditional perceptions of conduct. The veil itself began to change in idea as well. It no longer became a class divider but more of a gender divider. The veil became important only to those in the elite class. (Baron, 371) Egypt also began to look at the veil as a fashion statement. The designs and changes in the veil came from a much more modern Europe. Even the idea of a veil providing protection began to change. In Iran the same things began to happen. During the ...

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