First Advisor

Lindsey Benstead

Term of Graduation

Summer 2022

Date of Publication


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (M.A.) in Political Science


Political Science




Women (Islamic law) -- North Africa, Women (Islamic law) -- Middle East, Islamic law -- Tunisia -- Case studies, Islam and state -- Tunisia -- Case studies



Physical Description

1 online resource (vii, 65 pages)


Why is the Middle East North Africa region consistently ranked the lowest on the gender equity scale? This question is quite perplexing and that has driven several scholarly researchers to investigate the situation of gender and women's rights within the states in the region. In this research, I explore the various theories explaining the cause of gender inequity in this region including the Islam thesis/social modernization theory, political-economic theory, and psychological/social structural theories, with an emphasis on the Islamic thesis theory. I argue that the state's support and prioritization of Muslim/sharia law over federal law is a major contributor to gender inequity within the Middle East North African states. Tunisia presents a very interesting case where the state government continuously holds the reins of power with little to no autonomy granted to the mosques and their leaders despite the proclamation of Islam as the official religion of the state in the constitution. This thesis research provides a detailed analysis of the form of state-mosque interrelationships that existed within the different government regimes in Tunisia. I find that under a structured supervision/control of religious activities by the state government in Tunisia, gender-equitable policies continue to flourish amid opposition from religious fundamentalists.


© 2022 Joy Amarachi Agbugba

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