Columbia International Affairs Online: Working Papers

CIAO DATE: 11/2008

In the Shadow of the Brothers: The Women of the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood

Omayma Abdel-Latif

October 2008

Carnegie Endowment for International Peace


Islamist women, increasingly restless with their subordinate status in Egypt's Muslim Brotherhood, are pushing for greater representation and a wider role, according to a new paper from the Carnegie Middle East Center.

Omayma Abdel-Latif explores the role of women within the movement, including recent debates following the release of the 2007 draft party platform that denied women the right to the country's top position. She studies the growing impact of young leaders and female activists and examines what type of change is possible, despite major obstacles. 

Key conclusions

Abdel-Latif concludes:

"Far from being resolved, the issue of the position of women in the Muslim Brotherhood is at the center of a lively debate. However, there is no evidence that this debate is threatening the unity of the movement. The questioning by women activists of their role, and their call for broader participation in decision-making bodies, are parts of the normal dynamics of change, not signs of a "rebellion of the Sisters," as some observers described it. The Muslim Brotherhood, like any other sociopolitical movement, is not a static body. It is influenced by the social and political milieu in which it operates."