In Egypt, for example, women comprised less than 2 percent of post-revolution parliamentarians, compared to nearly 12 percent during the Mubarak era. By eliminating quotas for women candidates and listing women at the bottom of party lists, new election laws nearly guaranteed an absolute exclusion of women from the legislative branch. Even in Tunisia, where women successfully fought for a new law requiring every party to include a woman in the first two slots of a party list, women comprise only 26 percent of the parliament because they were consistently placed second in districts where a party could win one seat.
And in Yemen, patriarchal tribal traditions appoint men in key political positions as the women without whom Yemen's former leader, Ali Abdullah Saleh, would not have been overthrown are pushed back into their homes. Similarly, in Libya, women are woefully underrepresented in the transitional council.
Despite earning their rightful place at the table, Arab women have been relegated to the private sphere where their ability to make systemic change is significantly constrained. The need for change is real as exemplified in gender disparities in education, employment, and politics. According to the 2005 Human Development Report from the United National Development Programme, women in Arab countries suffer more than men from a lack of opportunities to acquire knowledge, even though girls outperform boys in competitive academic performance in those countries.