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Society, Politics & Law

OpenLearn Live: 18th December 2015

Updated Friday, 18th December 2015

Meet a pioneering Egyptian feminist, cross the Forth Bridge - and then more free learning through the day.

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OpenLearn Live brings free learning into the heart of your world. This page will be updated during the day, and you can follow us on Twitter.

Yesterday, a cat who could become mayor

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Today's posts

And that's almost it for 2015 - we'll be back on January 4th with our usual service, but watch out on Monday for a Christmas Special. Thanks for following us during this year; we look forward to sharing lots of free learning next year.

Public spending

Is public spending a drain on the nation's wallets? A social sciences debate set out to find out.

Neoliberalism can be described as the view that the State should retreat from economic and social life and have only a minimal impact on people’s lives, individuals should be free to judge what is best for them, businesses should be freed from the ‘red tape’ of bureaucracy and free markets adopted as the most efficient way to sort out the economy.  The Austrian economist, Hayek, was a major influence on this position. Having seen fascism rise out of the German socialist movement, Hayek (1945) argued that pursuing a socialist agenda - which, for example, seeks to use tax and benefits to reduce inequality - may deliver freedom from economic want but inevitably means the loss of much more valuable basic freedoms, such as liberty, because it involves the State taking too much power to itself.

Read the full article

The Forth Road bridge

The Forth Road Bridge, as you may know, has been closed...

Hello (from the Burgh side)

Sometimes its good to have a bit fun so this is just for fun :) but it may only make sense to uk people on this page .. its a parody to Hello called Hello (from the Burgh side) and its at the Forth Road Bridge

Posted by Saskia Eng on Thursday, December 17, 2015

Sometimes its good to have a bit fun so this is just for fun :) but it may only make sense to uk people on this page .. its a parody to Hello called Hello (from the Burgh side) and its at the Forth Road Bridge

Posted by Saskia Eng on Thursday, December 17, 2015

It might have its problems at the moment - but the Forth Road Bridge is still an amazing piece of engineering. Find out more with our free Forth Road Bridge course.

And is closing the bridge the right thing to do? Well... look what can happen when bridge maitainence fails - watch the Silver Bridge Disaster.

I was born on Christmas Day: Malak Hifni Nasif

This week, we've been featuring some people united by one accident of birth - that they were born on the 25th December.

If you've missed any so far this week, this is who we've already met:

Malak Hifni Nassef Copyright free  image Icon Copyright free: Public domain We're finishing the week with Malak Hifni Nasif, a pioneering Egyptian feminist.

Malak was born on December 25th, 1886, into a middle-class Egyptian family. Her father encouraged her to follow a rounded education - both a formal education, but also digging deep into Arabic, and especially Egyptian, culture, poetry and history.

She was a gifted student, and graduated as a teacher in 1903. She took up a position at the Women's section of Egypt University, and combined teaching with journalism. Her writing covered mostly social issues and called for a better deal for women.

Malak's life changed when she married Abd al-Satar al-Basil Pasha in 1907. As the law forbade women from working as teachers after marriage, she had to quit the post she excelled at. Moving to Al-Fayyum, she discovered that her new husband already had a wife. Although she remained with her spouse, her attitude against polygamy hardened. Driven by a sense of injustice, she continued her writing under the pen-name Bahithat al-Badiyyah (the seeker of the desert), calling for reform of the Muslim personal system. In 1910, a collection of her work, al-Nisa’iyat, was published.

Her position on veiling differed from other feminists of her generation. Many, such as Qasim Amin, called for women to unveil as part of a move towards liberation, but Malak saw the trend as having more to do with following European fashion than personal autonomy. Not for the last time, a woman writer found herself pointing out irony in choosing between some men telling you to do a thing, and some other men telling you not to do a thing, both claiming it's in your best interest.

Malak wasn't just a theoretician. She founded an organisation, the Union for the Education of Women, which brought together Arabic and European women; she started a Red Cross style emergency medical service. In 1911, she presented a list of ten demands to the Egyptian Legislative Assembly - none were adopted, but the introduction of a feminist manifesto into a government debate would have been remarkable in pretty much most nations at the time.

Malak died terribly young - at 32, of influenza. Although nobody took up her specific approach to gender politics, she unquestionably inspired and shaped the generations of feminists in the Arab world who followed her.

Try our free course on veiling

Watch a video series of how veiling intersects with fashion and tradition

More from OpenLearn on feminism





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