“Backwards” is the word often associated with pre-modern ages, and “oppression” is the word that comes to our minds first when we describe the state of women during those ages. Thank God we live in the modern age where human rights activism has brought women rights that they’ve never had before. Right?
Sorry to shake your beliefs, but there existed times where pre-modern women (in Egypt in particular and the Middle East in general) were granted rights that modern women strive to acquire in many of these communities.
In this paper, the researchers attempt to explore the role of women (of different social classes) in trade and economy in Fatimid, Mamluk and Ottoman Egypt between the 13th and the 17th centuries – eras where contemporary historical accounts have often overlooked the existence of women, except for in the harem. In order to conduct this research, the researchers had to go through many references and resources, none of which were written by women. The main focus is on women in Egypt; however, the researchers point out that the findings also apply to adjacent areas that were under the same rule (North Africa, the Levant and Arabia). Here I will go through some examples and incidents that caught my attention. [Read more...]