The Personal is Political: Family Law in the MENA Region

  • Illustration by Amy Chianara
    Illustration by Amy Chianara

Across the MENA region, women are constantly faced with structural barriers that hinder them from becoming equal members within their families and societies as well as equal citizens in the eye of their states. Family laws in the region are one of those main barriers.

Most countries in the MENA region derive their family laws from religious laws in order to govern family matters such as marriage, divorce, custody and maintenance. In addition, colonial influence by British or French laws have led to hybrid legal codes. The religious elements in those family laws vary across the region; for example, Tunisia has one of the most secular family laws, while Yemen claims to base its Family Law exclusively on Shari’a. However, regardless of the differences, family laws in the region are entrenched in patriarchal thinking that perpetuates certain customs and traditions that discriminate against women, violate their human rights and continuously reproduce the imbalance of power between women and men.

FES aims to provide space for feminist actors within the region to exchange knowledge, experience and best practices that assist them in overcoming challenges and backlash against their proposed reforms of family laws in their respective counties.


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Department for Middle East and North Africa
FES Berlin
Hiroshimastraße 28
10785 Berlin


About FES 

The Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung has a network of eleven country offices in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region and implements projects in a total of 14 countries. Some offices, such as Egypt or Sudan, look back at a history of more than 40 years of cooperation.

Offices in the Region