The Arab Spring and beyond: Society, education, and the civic engagement of women in Egypt before, during, and after the January 25 uprising
Ghazal, Rehab Y.
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This dissertation examines the civic experiences of women before, during and after the January 25, 2011 Uprising in Egypt in an attempt to explore this group's perception of what encouraged or discouraged them from engaging civically. Two questions guide this investigation. How do Egyptian women with a social studies background narrate their civic experiences before, during and after the January 25 Uprising? And to what extent have the K-12 citizenship education and related policies impacted the civic engagement of these future teachers before, during and after the Uprising? Inspired by the works of Dewey, Freire and hook, this study views education as key in developing engaged citizens. Schools represent the society and are responsible for cultivating future generations. The experiences students have influences their knowledge and attitudes as citizens. This study traces the impact of education, school environment, and the society in general on empowering women to have a voice, engage in the community, and make political choices. Data were collected in Egypt in 2013 amid much instability but at a time when Egyptians had to put their civic duty first and make many political choices. Twenty-two women took part in face-to-face semi-structured interviews. The participant pool included teachers of social studies, graduate students of social studies education or history, and undergraduate students majoring in a social studies related field. Additional sources of data included, non-participant observations, document analysis, and field notes. Using grounded theory to analyze and interpret the data; findings reveal that societal norms and school practices have limited the participants' choices and led the women to believe that their voices were silenced. However, the data also reflects strong human agency that the women exhibited consciously and unconsciously. Through intensive fieldwork, this dissertation sets the groundwork for future studies targeting education and women in the Middle East. It offers intellectual space for a much-needed conversation on educational policies, citizenship education, democracy, and women status in the Middle East.