Betraying their own biases, various Western commentators have frequently expressed shock at the visible and active presence of women and girls in demonstrations across the region. This sense of surprise has often doubled at the sight of innumerable veiled women who have taken to the streets to demand their rights.
Indeed, women have been at the forefront of the region's revolutions. They have been some of the most active organizers and leaders, both on and offline, from the early days of the Arab Spring. While for some, this political engagement has been a new experience, others were involved in activism, including on women's rights issues, long before the revolutions began.
As they had started to do before the revolutions, women in the region are taking control over their issues and rights. Since the beginning of the Arab Spring, they have developed their own culturally sensitive and locally focused solutions to deal with gender issues, which draw on the region's rich legacy of indigenous women's rights movements.