Biography

Isobel Coleman, author of Paradise Beneath Her Feet, is a senior fellow for U.S. foreign policy at the Council on Foreign Relations in New York and director of the council’s Women and Foreign Policy Program. Her areas of expertise include political and economic development in the Middle East, regional gender issues, educational reform, and microfinance.

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The women sit on the floor, shifting their weight from time to time to keep the blood flowing to their feet. As they move about, the plastic floor covering crinkles, bunching up under their blue burqas and black chadors. Through a small window, the rays of the morning sun begin to cut across the room, […]

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Madawi al-Hassoun meets me in a hair salon she owns in one of Jeddah’s trendiest malls in the fancy al-Hamra District. It is the end of the day, and the salon is packed with women getting pedicures, haircuts, styling, makeup, and all sorts of other treatments. Madawi herself is in the middle of a hair […]

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Across the Islamic world, women’s rights are contentious politically and ideologically. Attitudes toward women have defined and divided the worldviews of conservative and progressive Muslims. Conservatives link women’s piety to the purity and Islamic authenticity of their societies. They use religious justifications to enforce that piety …

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