Skip to main content

The use of political motherhood in Egypt’s Arab Spring uprising and aftermath


International Feminist Journal of PoliticsJournal abstract

Political motherhood, which uses traditional motherhood to mobilize and sustain women’s political participation, is understudied in political science. Women played a significant role in Egypt’s Arab Spring and its aftermath by “bargaining with patriarchy” and strategically using traditional motherhood to access the political sphere. In this article, we develop a theoretical argument based on the work of Gentry, Carreon and Moghadam and Amar. We illustrate it with examples drawn from news articles on women’s political activism and social media posts by Egyptian activists. Our argument explores how women’s agency and the larger political context in which women operate reveals how political motherhood takes the particular shape that it does. In the context of Egypt, we examine how the state’s choice to highlight women as “hypervisible” citizens, worthy of protection, backfired. Through a bottom-up political motherhood, women used their respectability as mothers in need of state protection against the state, thereby legitimizing anti-Mubarak and anti-Muslim Brotherhood demonstrations and challenging these governments.

You might also like: