Chapter 13: Women, Leadership and Development: Reappraising the Value of the Feminine in Leadership Theorizing in the Middle East
Beverly Dawn Metcalfe and Lulwa Mutlaq I believe strongly in the rights of women. My mother is a woman. My sister is a woman. My daughter is a woman. My wife is a woman. King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia, interview with Barbara Walters 2005 I mean, what is a woman? I assure you I do not believe that anybody can know until she has expressed herself in all the arts and professions open to human skill. Virginia Woolf, Professions for Women 1932 INTRODUCTION In this chapter we advance the theorizing of women’s leadership development in the Middle East. We explore the growth of women leaders in the region and show how current leadership knowledge presents only a partial picture of the complexity of women’s leadership roles and practice. Our intention is to enhance the value of the feminine in theorizing as a corrective to Western constructions which have largely privileged masculinist accounts. Further, our intention is not to recreate hierarchical gender positioning, but to show that a re-reading through a feminist Islamic lens can reveal a feminine logic which has often remained silenced and marginalized. The past two decades have seen the appearance of Muslim scholars whose writings bear a keen resemblance to those of Muslim modernists of the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries (Ramadan 2009). Their writings include feminist re-interpretations of Qur’anic verses and analyses of the authenticity of reports of the Prophet’s traditions as well as clarifications of Islamic history. These works are often ripostes to traditionalist and...
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