One of the top most-viewed items on al-Jazeera English in the past several days has been Naomi Wolf's article The Middle East Feminist Revolution:
[W]omen were not serving only as support workers, the habitual role to which they are relegated in protest movements, from those of the 1960s to the recent student riots in the United Kingdom. Egyptian women also organised, strategised, and reported the events. Bloggers such as Leil Zahra Mortada took grave risks to keep the world informed daily of the scene in Tahrir Square and elsewhere.
. . .
Two generations ago, only a small minority of the daughters of the elite received a university education. Today, women account for more than half of the students at Egyptian universities. They are being trained to use power in ways that their grandmothers could scarcely have imagined: publishing newspapers - as Sanaa el Seif did, in defiance of a government order to cease operating; campaigning for student leadership posts; fundraising for student organisations; and running meetings.
. . .
[T]he historical record of what happens when educated women participate in freedom movements suggests that those in the region who would like to maintain iron-fisted rule are finished.
And from another well-read al-Jazeera piece:
One of the women featured in the photos, Gigi Ibrahim, was quoted as follows:
I started [my political activism] by just talking to people involved [in the labour movement]. Then I became more active and the whole thing became addictive. I went to meetings and took part in protests. I learned very quickly that most of the strikes in the labour movement were started by women [my emphasis].
. . .
I was in Tahrir Square on February 2, when pro-Mubarak thugs attacked us with petrol bombs and rocks. That was the most horrific night. I was trapped in the middle of the square. The outskirts of the square were like a war zone. The more things escalated the more determined we became not to stop. Many people were injured and many died and that pushed us to go on and not give up.
. . .
The women were also taking care of the wounded in makeshift clinics in the square. Some women were on the front line throwing rocks with the men. I was on the front line documenting the battle with my camera. It was like nothing that I have ever seen or experienced before.
Tonight protests began in Saubi Arabia, the country which, in all the world, is the most oppressive toward women. Friday, March 11, is being called a "Day of Rage" in Saudi Arabia, though it's not clear how large such protests might be, considering the medieval sort of control the government exerts over its people. Those planning the protests, according to Robert Fisk, intend to place women on the front lines, in the belief that Saudi police might be less willing to open fire with live ammunition. It's not clear to me whether Saudi women would have any choice about taking place in the front lines of such protests, as they have virtually no rights in that country and are treated as their husbands' or fathers' slaves. However, even if they go to the front lines unwillingly, it will surely change their perception of themselves. If they are shot at on the front lines, the revolution becomes their own; they become founding members whether they wanted the role or not. Revolutionary spirit spreads, and not only from one nation to another. I hope the Saudi women will be safe from bullets and nerve gas, and that they begin to recognize their own power.